Ford calls Toronto birthday party shooting that injured four a 'senseless tragedy'

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TORONTO — Condemnation poured in on Sunday for a weekend shooting at a northwest Toronto birthday party that injured four people, including three children, with politicians and police alike describing it as a "senseless tragedy."

Police said a five-year-old girl was in serious, life-threatening condition Sunday after the shooting the night before at a party for a one-year-old boy, who was grazed by a bullet and treated on-scene for injuries but did not go to hospital.

The other victims included an 11-year-old boy, who police said was in serious condition after being struck in the buttocks, and a 23-year-old man who had suffered a leg wound and whose condition was unknown.

Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner said the five-year-old's condition was critical at one point, but Const. Edward Parks reported it as "stable" Saturday morning and then "serious, life-threatening" by the afternoon.

Police said officers were called to the scene in the Rexdale neighbourhood shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday and were looking for "multiple suspects."

Parks said he didn't have any information on suspects yet or whether they had fled in a vehicle or on foot.

He said investigators were on the scene and asking anyone who has information, dash-cam video or cellphone video to come forward.

Taverner said he couldn't speculate on a motive, noting "there are a number of theories out there." He said there were "a number of shooters" who fired on the group of people and police were working on descriptions of the suspects.

The police "have the resources to solve this crime — and we will solve it," he added.

"An obviously horrific, horrific set of events," Taverner told reporters on the scene Sunday.

"I've been a police officer a number of years and this is one of the most disturbing scenes, when you see young people like this indiscriminately shot. It's disgusting."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the incident "inconceivable and beyond comprehension."

"The perpetrators must be found and brought to justice," he tweeted Sunday. "If anyone has any information, please contact the Toronto Police Service or Crime Stoppers immediately."

Toronto Mayor John Tory said it was "a shocking and outrageous act of gun violence" that comes amid an overall decline in shootings in the city over the last year.

"Firing a gun anywhere anytime in the city of Toronto is unacceptable. Doing so at a child’s birthday party goes way beyond that," Tory said in a statement Sunday.

Tory also urged anyone with information to contact authorities "to send a clear message that such dangerous and brazen behaviour that threatens the lives of innocent children will not be tolerated."

Kirsty Duncan, the federal member of parliament representing the riding where the shooting took place, said she was "horrified" by the incident in her community.

"What should have been a happy day became a terrible tragedy," Duncan tweeted Sunday. "It is unconscionable."

Toronto Police Insp. Kelly Skinner previously said the children were not the targets of the shooting.

"There's nothing more brazen than children outside at a gathering and this kind of violence happening," she said after the shooting Saturday night.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2021.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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