London gun violence not linked, most not gang related

None of the mounting toll of shootings in London this year is linked, but at least one was connected to gang activity, one of the city’s deputy police chiefs says.

Three more cases of gunfire last month brought this year’s tally to 10 – up from seven last year – as the debate over banning handguns continues across the country.

Investigators have made arrests in all 10 cases, including the death of a man who was gunned down in broad daylight at an east-end Tim Hortons, but the shootings have left residents in some of the affected neighbourhoods shaken.

Deputy chief Steve Williams says incidents of gunfire, especially in public places, are always a major cause for concern for police.

“Gunplay in public spaces constitutes a public safety threat. While none of the recent events appear to be random, completely uninvolved citizens could be injured or killed from stray bullets,” Williams said in an email response to Free Press questions.

Following the most recent shooting, when a man was shot in the parking lot of a Marconi Boulevard public-housing complex, a University of Toronto criminologist Jooyoung Lee suggested London’s increase in gun violence may be the fallout from street gang rivalry, but Williams says only one of this year’s shootings was gang related.

“While only one of the 2018 incidents had a connection to gang activity, members of these gangs are involved in the drug trade and other lucrative activities,” Williams said. “Firearms and other weapons are tools gang members use to conduct business.”

Police have seized 104 guns this year to date, compared to 114 in all of 2017. Also this year, another 349 firearms have been either surrendered to police, turned in during an amnesty program or found.

But seizing weapons and targeting street gangs is only one part of the puzzle, Williams said.

“These are usually effective in the short term, but longer term solutions are required, involving more than just the police, if we are to address factors that make some individuals think it is acceptable to pick up a gun,” he said.
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