Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Grief Sinks in after Deadly Shooting at East-End Toronto Block Party

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Grief Sinks in after Deadly Shooting at East-End Toronto Block Party

Article excerpt

Grief sinks in after deadly Toronto shooting


TORONTO - A Toronto neighbourhood mourning the deaths of two young people simmered with frustration Wednesday as residents complained it took a deadly hail of bullets to draw attention to their struggles.

As the impact of Monday night's violence sunk in, authorities vowed to track down those responsible for the brazen public shootout that terrorized a block party at an social housing complex.

Officials focused on suspected gang activity in particular as they grappled with what's become the latest in a string of public shootings to rock the city in recent months.

But many members of the diverse east-end community bristled Wednesday at the sight of officers and politicians who've descended on the neighbourhood since the attack, with numerous residents wondering how many of the officials would still be on hand once the dust settled.

The incident -- which killed 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, and also sent 23 people to hospital with gunshot wounds -- has sparked fears of American-style gun wars.

A spokesman for city police said that many gang members taken into custody after a string of arrests in 2005 were recently released from prison -- an element which may factor into the recent increase in Toronto's gun-related violence.

In the aftermath of the latest mass shooting, Mayor Rob Ford called for an outright ejection of gang members from the city.

"I want these people out of the city and I'm not going to stop. Not put them in jail and then come back and you can live in the city. No, I want them out of the city. Go somewhere else," he said in an interview with local TV station CP24 on Wednesday.

"They should do some serious hard time and not come back here. Once you come out of jail, get out of the city," he said.

Ford will be meeting with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Police Chief Bill Blair next week to discuss ways to prevent similar violent incidents in the future.

Meanwhile, a community leader urged area residents to help the city's law enforcers by providing them with any information they might have about the shooting.

"If they want to take back their communities they have to come out in mass and say look, we will not tolerate this, we will not stand for guns on our streets," said Conservative Senator Reverend Don Meredith, who added that silence would only empower the criminals.

"Come forth, tell the police, give them the proper evidence that they need...They're getting some leads but they still need some hard evidence."

Police have been pleading for witnesses to come forward, but have been met with a stony silence on many fronts.

Fear of retaliation has weighed heavily on the community, some said. Streets normally bustling with children were quiet Wednesday, "like a ghost town," one woman said. …

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