Man shot to death in north end is Toronto's 89th homicide this year — tying grim record set in 1991

The shooting death of 22-year-old Yohannes Brhanu overnight Wednesday in north Toronto marks the city's 89th homicide this year, matching a grim record that has stood unbroken for nearly three decades.

Yohannes Brhanu, 22, identified Wednesday by Toronto police as victim

Homicide detectives and forensic investigators were at the scene through the night and are expected to continue their work well into the daylight hours Wednesday. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The shooting death of 22-year-old Yohannes Brhanu overnight Wednesday in north Toronto marks the city's 89th homicide this year, matching a grim record that has stood unbroken for nearly three decades. 

Police responded to Ann Arbour Road, in the area of Albion and Weston roads, around midnight after several callers reported hearing multiple gunshots. 

In a Wednesday news conference, Det.-Sgt. Mike Carbone said at least four firearms — most likely handguns — were used in the fatal attack.

Although he wouldn't specify who fired the guns, he said the victim was also armed, and estimates between 10 and 20 bullets were found.

"The amount of fire power that was out there on that quiet residential street, it is alarming to us," said Acting Insp. Hank Idsinga, who also attended the event to speak with reporters about the city's latest killing.

Officers found Brhanu badly injured and "without vital signs" inside a vehicle at the scene. He was taken to the trauma centre at Sunnybrook Hospital, where he later died of his wounds.

Police did not have information about possible suspects and could not say whether Brhanu was shot while inside the vehicle or if he got into it after.

Carbone said evidence suggests Brhanu was the intended victim. 

"The appeal here today is to speak to witnesses who have an untainted version of what they saw," he said. 

Homicide detectives and forensic investigators were at the scene early Wednesday. Police also used canine units to help canvass the area around the scene, said Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Jim Gotell. 

Carbone said at this point in the investigation, there's no information to suggest any violent retaliation will follow this incident. 

Gang violence a 'contributing factor' 

The victim's death brings to the total of slayings in Toronto this year to 89, a figure that has stood as the most homicides in a single year in the city since 1991. 

"Gang violence is definitely a contributing factor, but it's not the only factor," Idsinga said, when speaking on the uptick.  

While Toronto remains a relatively safe city in terms of rates of violent crime, 2018 has been marred by a number of high-profile shootings. Among those that raised particular public ire were a shooting at a Scarborough playground that injured two young girls, the brazen daylight slaying of two young men with ties to the city's hip-hop scene and a mass shooting during bustling summer evening on Danforth Avenue

Police statistics show an increase in shooting deaths in 2018, with 46 recorded so far this year compared to 35 in 2017 and 34 the year before.

Gun violence and its root causes have become hot-button political issues as a result. Mayor John Tory has endorsed a complete ban on handguns within city limits, while both the province and Ottawa have contributed new funding for youth programming aimed at providing opportunities to especially vulnerable young people. 

Idsinga said while the shootings have increased, so have tips from the public when compared to the last few years.

"We have to do everything we can as a city and as a community to do everything we can to quell it," Idsinga said.

"Let's get these guys off the streets." 

Police found the victim, Youhannes Brhanu, with dire injuries inside a vehicle. At least one caller reported hearing as many as 10 gunshots, according to police. (Tony Smyth/CBC)