Police say gangs at centre of recent Toronto gun violence

Toronto police believe a small number of people involved with gangs are responsible for an upswing in gun violence that has recently had deadly consequences in the city's northwest region.

Detective says police have now obtained images of suspects in double homicide

2 teens were fatally shot last Friday. So far no arrests have been made. 2:41

Toronto police believe a small number of people involved with gangs are responsible for an upswing in gun violence that has recently had deadly consequences in the city's northwest region.

Deputy Chief Peter Sloly told CBC Radio's Metro Morning that the gun violence that has been taking place in three particular police divisions is the result of an ongoing conflict among gangs that operate there.

Sloly said those areas are located within 12 Division, 23 Division and 31 Division, which is where police are currently hunting for the "gang members" they believe are responsible for the violence.

"It's a relatively small part of the city in the northwest corner, it isn’t radiating beyond that as of right now, it's very localized," Sloly said Monday morning.

That's why police have launched a short-term initiative, known as Project Ice, to try to curb the violence that has flared up there this summer.

"Project Ice is very specific, there's been a spike in gun violence, in gang violence. We're going to get on top of that and suppress that and stop this wave of violence," Sloly said.

While Sloly said he could not comment on the specifics of a homicide investigation into the killing of two teenagers last week, the deputy chief acknowledged that the deaths of young Torontonians are weighing heavily on the communities where the violence is occurring.

"We're making progress … but it's not enough, because as soon as you seen a young person shot down in their early years, that wipes out all sense of improvement," he said.

No arrests yet in double homicide

Last Friday, two teenagers were shot outside the Yorkwoods Village housing complex, within the boundaries of 31 Division.

O'She Doyles-Whyte, 16, was found without vital signs when police arrived at the scene. His friend 15-year-old Kwame Duodu later died in hospital.

There were security cameras on site at the housing complex where the two teens were shot, but some of those devices were not working at the time of the shooting.

On Monday evening, Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne told reporters that police had reviewed the images from the security cameras.

Browne said police believe they have images of the suspects who were seen leaving the housing complex on their bicycles on Friday afternoon. But he said that police are not currently releasing the suspect descriptions until investigators speak to some specific witnesses they have yet to hear from.

"We need to hear from them and I don't want to taint what we're seeing, so those of you who haven't spoken to us yet or contacted us, I ask that you do that," Browne said.

The bicycles were recovered from a nearby park, Browne said.

Samuel Addo, the uncle of Kwame Duodu, told reporters that his nephew never had trouble with others, including the police.

"He was minding his own business, right in front of his house and somebody decided to end his life," Addo said.

Addo said that Duodu’s family is pleading for anyone with information about what happened to come forward.

"Police can only do their job when we talk to them and tell them what we know," he said.

The killings were just a short distance from the scene of another shooting a week earlier at Yewtree Boulevard, just south of the Jane Street and Finch Avenue West intersection, where shooting put an 18-year-old in hospital.

Two weeks before that, another shooting at neighbouring Yorkwoods Plaza shopping centre left 15-year-old Tahj Loor Walters, a friend of Doyles-Whyte and Duodu, with fatal injuries

Just hours before Doyles-White was shot dead last Friday, he tweeted an RIP message about his slain friend.

All three shootings happened in broad daylight.

With a report from the CBC's Jeff Semple