Metro Morning

Toronto gun violence must be addressed by entire city, Rexdale pastor says

A Toronto-area pastor says there's a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness in the city's Rexdale neighbourhood and it's a problem for the entire city to fix.

Parents afraid to let their kids play outside in neighbourhood where pregnant woman shot dead

Toronto police have identified Candice Rochelle Bobb, 35, as the pregnant woman fatally shot Sunday in Rexdale as her premature baby is in stable condition.

A Toronto-area pastor says there's a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness in the city's Rexdale neighbourhood and it's a problem for the entire city to fix. 

On Sunday, a 35-year-old pregnant woman was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting while riding in the back seat of a vehicle in the area. Toronto police say Candice Rochelle Bobb shot was in the chest, but add she was not the likely intended target. 

Authorities say the premature baby is now in stable condition, but residents of Rexdale are still trying to cope with the reality of gun violence in the area.

"I think the community is rightly feeling shocked and outraged," Sam Aragones, a pastor with the Rexdale Alliance Church, told host Matt Galloway Tuesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

"They're heartbroken for the family."

Aragones says the shooting is nothing new for a part of the city where parents are afraid to walk their children to school or let them go outside to play.

"They're feeling frustrated, they feel like nothing is changing," he said. "After a while, people feel like, 'I can't do anything about it.'"

That's why he says he is calling for immediate action to deal with violence in the community.
A Toronto pastor says shootings part of the reality for residents of Rexdale, where parents are afraid to walk their children to school or let them go outside to play. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

'A social brokenness'

The pastor says he wants to see all three levels of government working to address issues plaguing the community, from a lack of resources and opportunities to a need for a stronger police presence. 

"People are not dealing with the root issues of our community," he said. "We need grants for programs ... we need people who are going to step up."

According to Aragones, there are generations of families growing up believing they won't amount to much.

"There's a social brokenness," the pastor explained. "Families are disconnected from each other."

A city-wide problem

Aragones says when residents have expectations so low that they are accepting of any number of shootings, you know there is a serious issue that must be addressed. 

"It's going to have to take the whole city to deal with something like this," he said. "This is a problem for the whole city."

On Monday, Mayor John Tory condemned the act of "senseless violence."

"My heart goes out in particular to her baby," said Tory. "No baby should come into this world without a mother."

So far, no arrests have been made in relation to the shooting, but police sources have told CBC News they believe the violence is linked to a gang rivalry.

John Tory reacts to fatal shooting of pregnant Candice Rochelle Bobb 1:30

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