For the second time this year, tragedy has struck the streets of Toronto.
A lone gunman opened fire in Toronto’s Greektown district on Sunday. Some reports suggest it could have been 15 to 20 rounds in total, including at least one reload of the weapon.
Three people are dead, including the gunman. Twelve people were injured.
Who was the deceased shooter? The name wasn’t immediately revealed by Toronto Police Service or Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit. The latter confirmed on Monday that he was Faisal Hussain, a 29-year-old male who reportedly suffered with mental health issues.
What was his motive?
It still hasn’t been revealed. The police are investigating “every possible motive, including terrorism,” but nothing has been confirmed.
Who were the victims?
Most of the names haven’t been revealed. Four people were sent to St. Michael’s Hospital, three to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and one to The Hospital for Sick Children. Two young females, aged 10 and 18, were killed.
That’s not much to go on, I readily admit.
Details will eventually be released but the public really should know more at this stage. Domestic and international media organizations, including ABC News and BBC, have been left in the dark.
Nevertheless, some things are painfully clear.
There’s been a significant amount of gun-related shootings and deaths in Toronto since the vehicle-ramming attack in April. It’s become so bad that some people have started calling it the “Summer of the Gun” in this city. (This same term was loosely used in 2005, along with the more common description, “Year of the Gun.”)
There’s also been a spike in Toronto’s homicide rate in recent years.
A report by the Toronto Police Service’s business intelligence and analytics department of homicides between 2004 and 2017 revealed some striking statistics. After reaching 80 homicides in 2005, and a peak of 86 in 2007, the rate went below 60 from 2011 to 2015. Since the other years isolated in this report were in the 60s and 70s, this seemed promising at the time.
A significant jump occurred between 2015 (57 homicides) and 2016 (74). Although there was a slight decline during 2017 (66), the rate was still far too high. Toronto homicides in 2018 sit at 52 and we’re only in July.
At the rate things are going, total homicides could hit close to 100 by year’s end. That’s more than a little worrisome.
I’m obviously not suggesting Toronto has become a war zone. It hasn’t and the city’s homicide numbers pale in comparison to some American and European cities.
Nevertheless, it’s a sign that lawlessness and gun violence are on the rise in Toronto. Something is beginning to transform in our neighborhoods and communities, and it’s affecting societal behaviour, respect for authority figures, support for safety and security measures, and so on.
That’s something most people don’t associate with Toronto or Canada. This perception needs to stop immediately before it negatively impacts travel and tourism.
It should also be mentioned that a popular three-day event, Taste of the Danforth, takes place in the Greektown district next month. This festival has been running on an annual basis since 1993 and attendance numbers reportedly reach an average of 1.6 million visitors.
Many restaurants and businesses have benefited financially from this enjoyable event. It would be a shame if Taste of the Danforth didn’t live up to its usual expectations in 2018 due to this week’s terrible tragedy and too many unanswered questions.
Torontonians, like Canadians generally, are proud, confident and resilient. This shooting is yet another reminder that the city must remain vigilant in the face of violence and terror. But while people aren’t going to live in fear, it’s up to Toronto police and the SIU to reveal pertinent information to ensure we know exactly what we’re up against.
Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.
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