Residents told to check backyards for 'anything out of place' after 3 killed in Scarborough

Toronto police are urging residents in a northeast Scarborough neighbourhood to search their backyards for "anything out of place" after two men were killed in a shooting on the weekend.

Cluster of homicides leaves 3 men dead and police have not yet recovered any weapons

Rinaldo Cole, 33, (left) and Dwayne Campbell, 30, (right) were killed early Sunday in northeast Scarborough. Toronto police are urging residents in the area to check their backyards for "anything out of place." (Toronto Police Services)

Toronto police are urging residents in a northeast Scarborough neighbourhood to search their backyards for "anything out of place" after two men were killed in a shooting on the weekend.

Rinaldo Cole, 33, and Dwayne Campbell, 30, both of Toronto, were gunned down at a birthday party barbecue at a home in the Gennela Square and Morningview Trail area, near Morningside Avenue and Old Finch Avenue, at about 1 a.m. on Sunday. 

The deaths of Cole and Campbell mark the city's 24th and 25th homicides of the year.   

"We don't know what we are looking for," Const. Victor Kwong, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said Monday.

"It's possible that somebody jumped a fence. Maybe somebody dropped something."

Detectives continue to appeal to witnesses

Later that evening, a third man was killed only minutes away by car in the Empringham Drive and McLevin Avenue area, which is west of Morningside Avenue. That death is Toronto's 26th homicide of the year.

Police have not yet identified the man who was fatally shot in the latest homicide at about 6:45 p.m. Sunday.

Mark Pugash, a spokesperson for Toronto police, said it's too early to tell if the shootings are related. However, he added that multiple homicides within a short period of time, or "homicide clusters," occur in the city six to 10 times a year. 

"That's not to diminish the seriousness of the homicides, but I think it helps to have a perspective about crime overall in this city," said Pugash.

Detectives are seeking witnesses to both shootings. Kwong said a handful of witnesses from the first shooting have come forward.

The weapons used in both shootings have not been recovered, Kwong said.

200 people at party when shooting took place

In the first case, police said about 200 people were at the party when the shooting occurred.

A woman was also shot. The party was being held in her honour because it was her birthday but police said they are not releasing her age. She was rushed to a trauma centre with life-threatening injuries. She has since been upgraded to serious but stable condition. 

Autopsies were scheduled to be performed on the bodies on Monday. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene and next of kin have been notified.

In a news release, police urged people at the party who witnessed the shooting to come forward and residents who live in the area to check their backyards for "anything out of place."

No suspect information was released. 
Police officers could be seen going door to door after the second shooting, which occurred on Sunday evening, left a third man dead. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

'People want to help, but they're scared'

CBC Toronto spoke with one woman who attended the backyard birthday party around midnight. The woman is not being identified out of concerns for her safety.

The woman was invited by a friend and didn't know anyone else there. Around 1 a.m. she heard the first gunshot ring out. 

"I froze because I had never heard a gunshot in my life. I heard about 10 different shots after that — it was really frightening. I saw everyone just scatter," she told CBC Toronto.

The woman said she dropped to the floor and crawled inside the house where the scene was chaotic. 

"Everyone was panicking, running all over the place. They thought the shooter was in the house."

She described hearing someone, possibly the female victim's father, saying,"Baby, stay with me."

The woman said the police were outside the home that night "begging" anyone to come forward as a witness.

"I felt so bad. But people are scared to come forward; they're afraid they're going to get in trouble," she said. 

The second shooting

In the second case, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. His name and age have not been released because police said next of kin have not yet been notified.

In the second shooting, police said a man, described as brown, in his mid 20s, with some facial hair, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was seen speeding away in a light-coloured four-door sedan. He was on McLevin Avenue.

Coun. Neethan Shan, who represents Ward 42, said he is concerned about the larger issue of illegal firearms.​ He noted that all three homicides occurred in a 24-hour period in his ward.

"What is worrying to me, as a city councillor, is the increasing access to guns. Young adults and teenagers have been able to access guns easily. Something needs to be done around it," Shan said.

Shan said all three levels of government need to get involved to get guns off the streets and a public awareness campaign, along with a gun amnesty, is in order.

With files from Ieva Lucs, Lisa Xing and Nicole Martin