Two people are in serious condition after they were shot at an after-hours club in Toronto's Entertainment District early Sunday, police say.
A 24-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman were shot around 4:30 a.m., said Sgt. Jeffery Zammit. He said both victims are currently in hospital.
The illegal club is located at 64 Spadina Avenue, just south of King Street.
Zammit said police are "well aware" of the club, and have been there multiple times trying to shut it down. He said there's usually around 60 to 100 people inside.
Not playing by the rules
"It's very difficult to close it down because we have to play by the rules. They don't," he said. "You can't just take their license away when they don't have a license."
Zammit said police have to target building owners and the people running the club, which can be challenging.
"You charge, they can reopen, then you charge again, they can reopen. It's quite a process," he said.
After-hours clubs known for 'drug activity, shootings'
Zammit called after-hours clubs "boozecans," and said they are "notorious for drug activity, shootings, murders."
"If it's illegal, it's unlicensed, there's no checks and balances in place, so people are taking a chance going in there," he said. "If you want to take a chance of going to one of these clubs that's illegal, you could end up getting shot."
"It's terrible. It just seems so regular, such a regular occurrence around here," said Gary Thomas, who's been living in area for about five years. "It's mind-boggling. My son was out last night, I live right here."
"I would like to think the city has some tools to act," he added.
Ward 20 Coun. Joe Cressy stressed that the city does not permit such illegal operations and works alongside police to "shut these places down."
Laws surrounding entry into these establishments need to be looked at at the provincial level, he added.
Staff Sgt. Dan Pravica said he hopes this shooting will be a catalyst to closing the club more quickly.
Police do not currently have any information on suspects, he said.