Third person dies after string of Toronto shootings

News source from CTV News

TORONTO — A third person is dead following a string of shootings in downtown Toronto over the past week.

A man, who was among four people injured in a shooting in the city’s Kensington Market neighbourhood Sunday night, was pronounced dead in hospital, police said Wednesday.

Two men associated with the local rap scene — 21-year-old Jahvante Smart, also known as Smoke Dawg, and 28-year-old Ernest Modekwe — were killed in a separate incident near Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on Saturday evening.

Investigators have also asked for the public’s help in finding an unidentified man who fired nine shots during a dispute near King Street West and Portland Street early Tuesday morning, sending one man to hospital with a bullet wound to the hip. Officers say they have no description of the shooter, but they believe he is violent, armed and dangerous.

Overall, 11 people have been shot in Toronto since Friday morning when, police said, a driver near Shuter and George Streets took a shotgun out of her trunk and opened fire at a pedestrian, injuring the 21-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man on a bike.

There have been 22 gun deaths in Toronto so far this year, out of 51 total homicides — a figure inflated by the deadly van attack that killed 10 people in April. By contrast, there were 27 total homicides at this point last year, and 16 fatal shootings by the end of June 2017.

Police Chief Mark Saunders has said the vast majority of shootings this year have been gang-related.

Police in Toronto and surrounding jurisdictions laid more than 1,000 charges against 75 alleged members and associates of the Five Points Generalz street gang last month.

Officers said the Generalz, linked to several shootings in the Greater Toronto Area, were “significantly disrupted” by the sweep, but acknowledged that gang activity would persist.

“We realize that drugs equal easy money and that there will always be people willing to step in and fill that void,” Acting Insp. Don Belanger said at the time.

Saunders has said he has a plan to target gangs in Toronto surgically and strategically, rather than flooding at-risk neighbourhoods with a police.

Mayor John Tory said Tuesday that Toronto is one of the safest cities in North America, but that he has “grave concerns” about the number of shootings this year.

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