Toronto gun violence rages as politicians debate solutions

Four people remain in hospital in Toronto after three separate shootings overnight.

3 shootings hit Toronto late Friday and early Saturday, hours after peace march

Toronto police say two wounded gunshot victims were found in a car in Bloor West Village. (Asha Tomlinson/CBC)

On Friday night in Toronto, people marched for peace. Then the shooting began anew.

Toronto hip-hop artist P. Reign hosted an "Angel Walk" on Friday evening in the area of Danzig Street in Scarborough — a tribute to Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, two bystanders who were shot and killed in a shootout that also injured 23 in what is described as the worst shooting event in the city's history. Hundreds took part in the march, which included the release of doves.

But before the night was over, three separate shootings across the city had sent four people to hospital.

Just before 10 p.m. ET on Friday, Toronto police were called out to Driftwood Court, in the area of Jane and Finch streets.

A man had been shot in the head and was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition.

Then at about 11:30 p.m., at Jane and Bloor streets, two men were found in a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. A 19-year-old had been shot in the leg while a 21-year-old was shot in the arm.

A witness at the scene told CBC News she was trying to cross the street when a black Toyota Yaris sped by and then stopped. The two men got out of the car and fell to the ground bleeding.

Both victims were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned black man in his late teens, 5'9", with a shaved head. He was wearing a white T-shirt.

Then at 4 a.m. Saturday, a 43-year-old man was sent to hospital after being shot several times in the mid-section in the area of Kennedy Road and Ellesmere Avenue. His injuries are not life-threatening.

There have now been six shootings in Toronto since Monday night, killing four people in all. Police are asking people with information to call police or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

Shooting statistics up

Prior to Friday night, there were 147 shootings involving 209 victims — a 62 per cent increase in victims compared to this time last year.

A police cruiser is parked in Pickering outside the visitation services for Joshua Yasay. (Charlsie Agro/CBC)

Friends and family have been attending a visitation for Yasay in Pickering on Saturday afternoon. Media are not allowed inside, but CBC's Charlsie Agro said attendees tell her there is some anger but mostly sadness in the building.

Yasay's friends said the Toronto Raptors basketball team gave his family a personalized jersey that is on display, Agro reported.

She could see many young children arriving, as well as a police presence.

The unprecedented Danzig Street shooting, as well as a number of other shootings in the midst of large crowds, have ignited a debate about how best to deal with gun violence. 

Black community leaders are calling for more support for youth programs, but Mayor Rob Ford calls those "hug-a-thug" programs and wants a crackdown on gun crime, including banishing gun criminals from the city after they have served their sentences.

The federal government has already thrown cold water on Ford's exile idea.

Coun. Michael Thompson, who represents the ward of Scarborough Centre, said Saturday that part of the focus needs to be on community housing.

"Some of the incidents that we have actually seen here in the city of Toronto have taken place in, at, near or on Toronto Community Housing properties," he said. "We're going to have to deal with that problem."

After the Danzig Street shooting, which was in a community housing area, CEO Gene Jones said anyone on the housing organization's property with a gun will be arrested and anyone they visit will be evicted.

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has called for a balanced approach that deals with both criminals and the root causes of crime.  

McGuinty, Ford, and Toronto police Chief Bill Blair are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the issue. McGuinty said he also expects a federal government representative to take part.