In the wake of a string of homicides and shootings in Toronto, police Chief Mark Saunders says making more arrests is not the answer to the apparent upsurge in “gun play.”
Saunders spoke with members of the media on Tuesday following a wave of violence, which began late Thursday night when 17-year-old Jaydin Simpson, who had just graduated from high school, was gunned down outside a housing complex on Danzig Street.
The violence continued in the early hours of Saturday morning when three men were shot at apartment building in the city’s Mount Dennis neighbourhood. Two of them — Christopher Teape, 25, and Ahmed Mohamud, 32 — were killed.
“We’re making those arrests. That is not the solution,” the police chief said.
“When you look at the hundreds of guns that we’re seizing and the thousands of people that we’re apprehending, surely arresting our way out of this is not the solution.”
“They come back out, 90 per cent are coming back out again,” he said. “There has to be a holistic approach if we’re going to get it right. So, the focus should be right across the bandwidth to make sure that it’s front end, back end and, of course, the enforcement piece that we’ve got to do.”
The string of shootings continued early Sunday morning with another homicide at a nightclub in the Entertainment District.
Police said that the victim — Jordan Armstrong, 33, of Markham — was found by staff shortly after last call. He was rushed to hospital with an apparent gunshot wound but was pronounced dead a short time later.
But Saunders also assured Torontonians that the city remains safe
“For an urban city of 2.8 million [if we do the comparison] to other urban cities . . . we will see that this is the safest urban city in North America,” he said.
On Canada Day, Mayor John Tory said he spoke with Saunders in the wake of the upsurge in violence.
“I have spoken with Chief Saunders . . . and I have been in touch with him over the last few days on a fairly continuous basis,” Tory said.
“I can just say that the police are working very hard on these,” Tory said, adding there is nothing to suggest that the recent homicides are “connected incidents.”
The mayor said the recent shootings underscore the fact that there are people in the city who carry firearms and are prepared to act in a senseless manner.