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'This is not Toronto': Saunders says violent weekend an anomaly for the city

Last Updated Aug 6, 2019 at 8:24 am MDT

Summary

Police chief Mark Saunders said the rash of violence over the weekend is not "normal" for Toronto

Saunders did not blame the various festivals but admitted an increase of people in the city could have been a factor

Mayor Tory reiterated his call for a handgun ban in the city

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders says the particularly violent few days over the August long weekend are not the norm in the City of Toronto.

Speaking to media on Monday, the chief stressed that the 11 firearms occurrences in which 13 people were injured over a three day period is a rarity.

“This is not a normal weekend in the City of Toronto. I do not anticipate in a two day span I’m going to be talking about 13 people shot [again]. This is not Toronto,” said Saunders.

The weekend saw several large events taking place including the Caribbean Carnival, OVO Fest and Veld, bringing an influx of people from across the world to the city.

“I’m more interested in people that are willing to use the guns”

Saunders refused to pin blame on the festivities, but said that the increased density of people in the city at night and the number of venues open could potentially have been a contributing factor to the spike in violence.

In terms of where the guns are coming from and how to deal with firearms crossing the border or 3D printing of guns, Saunders said he is more focused on the people using the guns.

“There are a whole host of partners that we have when it comes to firearms that are crossing the border [but] I’ve got to tell you, I’m more interested in people that are willing to use the guns, that are going to navigate the city with a gun ready to use it. That’s my bigger concern,” he said. “Anyone that’s motivated to make one, anyone that’s motivated to use one – that’s the concern we have to address if we’re going to get this right.”

Saunders also reiterated what he’s said several times in the past about who could fall victim to such crimes, saying that people who are not involved in unlawful activities are largely safe.

“A lot of the places and some of the people that have been shot aren’t necessarily 9 to 5, wife and kids, home…if you’re in that stratosphere then the odds of anything happening to you are very very slim in this city.”

Saunders said he will continue working with various stakeholders to reduce gun violence in the city and added that there has been cooperation from all levels of government to that end.

“All three levels of government have been very supportive when it comes to gun violence — it’s non-partisan. People do not like people with guns shooting other people,” he said.

Mayor John Tory called the recent rash of violence “absolutely unacceptable” and urged anyone with information to come forward.

In a statement he reiterated his call for a handgun ban in Toronto. It reads in part:

“I led City Council – joined by other major Canadian cities – in sending a clear message on the need for a ban on handguns, assault rifles and semi-automatic firearms.

This was always put forward as a part of the answer to gun violence together with changes to other laws affecting things like bail, additional support for police, and the paramount need for all three governments to invest together in kids, families and neighbourhoods.”