Come Monday morning, government officials will pool their knowledge and debate strategy in an attempt to crack Toronto’s recent spree of gun violence. Chief of Police Bill Blaire, Ontario Premiere Dalton McGuinty and Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford will meet to discuss thoughts and potential solutions.
Since January 1st, a total of 21 people have died in Toronto due to gunfire.
4 of these individuals were killed within the last week. 2 died on Monday when an argument turned into a shootout at a Danzig Street block party. 2 separate and unrelated shootings resulted in the deaths of an additional 2 individuals, one in a schoolyard and the other in a soccer field. The Danzig Street shootout also result in 23 others being injured.
The individuals who died on Danzig street turned out to be innocent victims of the crossfire. One of the victims was Shyanne Charles, a 14 year old who lived in the neighbourhood. The other victim was a resident of Ajax who had dreams of becoming a police officer and who regularly volunteered to coach youth basketball in his neighbourhood.
It was the tragic nature of the innocent victims in the Danzig Street shooting that sparked the upcoming meeting. During the meeting, provincial officials and the mayor will discuss methods for preventing such incidents in the future.
While the mayor of Toronto believes the problem will be solved by throwing more resources into Toronto’s policing unit, the premiere of Ontario favours a more balanced approach that will also address the nature of the situation causing the violence.
Dalton McGuinty’s strategy is to attack the cause of the violence as well as the violence itself. “The smartest way to deal with crime is to be tough both on crime and on the causes of crime,” Dalton McGuinty said during a news conference in Scarborough. He went on to stress the necessity of keeping youths away from gangs.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says that he does not support youth programs which he has labelled as “hug-a-thug”.
In response to the Mayor of Toronto, McGuinty called the mayor’s strategy short-sited in that it will not create any long term positive change. He said this during a news conference in Scarborough.
After the event, locals and social workers seemed positive about the discussions. A member of the African American Legal clinic referred to the Premiere as very open to debate and highly interested in finding a sustainable solution.
The premiere’s conference was held on Galloway Road, a part of Scarborough notorious for the street gang it spawned. The gang refers to itself as the Galloway Boys.
A 19 year old named Nahom Tsegazab has been charged in Monday’s shooting. According to police, his gunfire did not cause the deaths of the 2 individuals at the block party, but it was reckless and he will be charged.
Tsegazab was also injured during the shooting and remains in a hospital. One more suspect is still being sought.