Police sweep aims to stomp out gun violence and give Toronto a 'peaceful summer'

Toronto police say they found a loaded sawed-off shotgun, two rifles with scopes and dozens of boxes of ammunition in one Regent Park home. And that was just day one of a new weapons crackdown.

Project Red Brick focuses on seizing guns and ammo throughout downtown core

Police seized four guns, including this loaded sawed-off shotgun, from a residence near Bayview Avenue and Gerrard Street East on Saturday night. (Toronto Police Service)

In one Regent Park home, Toronto police say they found:

  • A loaded sawed-off shotgun
  • Two rifles equipped with scopes 
  • Dozens of boxes full to the brim with various types of ammunition

It's just a portion of what police seized on Saturday night as part of a new initiative called Project Red Brick, which aims to stomp out increasing levels of gun violence in Toronto's downtown core.

Police say this sawed-off shot gun was taken from a residence in Regent Park on Saturday. They would not confirm whether the bandanna was gang related. (Toronto Police Service)

"There is definitely an increased level of gun violence as compared to last year," said Supt. Tony Riviere of 51 Division.

"It's of concern to us."

The warrants executed this weekend came just one day after the project's launch and resulted in the arrest of four people, including two youth.

"It's significant because of the type of weapons that were located and the potential to cause damage to members of the community," Riviere said.

Boxes of ammunition were taken from a residence in Regent Park on Saturday, along with four guns and marijuana, police say. (Toronto Police Service)
Two rifles, both equipped with scopes, were taken from a residence on Saturday as part of a new police initiative called Project Red Brick. (Toronto Police Service)

The four people were jointly charged with seven firearm and weapon-related charges as well as marijuana possession.

Project crosses division borders

Initiatives like Project Red Brick are typically launched by police every year around this time, but Riviere calls this one "multifaceted in design" because its span reaches across the borders several downtown divisions — 14, 51, 52, as well as 55 Division in the east.

Additional officers will be deployed onto the streets of these neighbourhoods, both in uniform and plain clothes, Riviere says.

Supt. Tony Riviere says Project Red Brick is meant to curb a spate of gun violence in downtown Toronto. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

"We're looking at the behaviour that's been exhibited through the downtown core and trying to come up with a way of stymieing and suppressing that type of behaviour to ensure that we have a peaceful summer," Riviere said.  

Since the arrests on Saturday, 51 Division officers have seized two more firearms under Red Brick's umbrella.

Riviere can't say whether he expects to see more arrests and seizures in the near future, but he says he certainly hopes the effort will keep the trend of the recent violence in check.

'You feel life in this neighbourhood,' says resident

Sureya Ibrahim, a community relations specialist at Regent Park's Centre for Community Learning and Development, has lived in the area for 20 years. On a bustling Tuesday afternoon she was busy helping set up an outdoor pop-up market.

"You feel life in this neighbourhood, there's a lot of things happening," she said. 

Sureya Ibrahim is a community relations specialist at Regent Park's Centre for Community Learning and Development who has lived in the area for 20 years. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Ibrahim says she's already noticing the beefed up police presence.

"It was a little bit rough last year, but they're on it right now," she says of the police, explaining that better lighting has been added to outdoor public areas as well, which helps people feel "more comfortable going around." 

About the Author

Ieva Lucs

Web and radio reporter

Ieva Lucs is a web and radio reporter for CBC Toronto. She is drawn to offbeat and untold stories. Email: ieva.lucs@cbc.ca