Toronto police name 2 killed in east-end shooting

The worst incident of gun violence in the Toronto area left two people dead, 23 injured and has police worrying about the possibility of retaliation.

Shooting erupted at a block party in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Toronto on Monday night.

Det. Sgt. Graham Gibson of the Toronto police homicide squad identified the deceased during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon as Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax, Ont., and Shyanne Charles, 14, of Toronto.

It is still not clear if gangs were involved in the shootings, but police Chief Bill Blair said police are investigating that possibility.

He said police are also "very concerned" about the potential for retaliatory violence following the Danzig Street shooting.

"The crime that occurred in Scarborough yesterday was unprecedented for the city of Toronto," Blair said.

"It is a crime that is shocking to all of our citizens and it is a crime that demands the relentless pursuit of the individuals responsible for this violence."

The surviving victims of the Monday night shooting ranged in age from a 22-month-old toddler, who received a “grazing injury,” to a 33-year-old man, Blair said.

While most of these victims are expected to recover, one man remains in critical condition in hospital as of Tuesday morning.

A police spokesperson told CBC News that one other person was trampled when people were fleeing the scene of the shooting.

Blair said the homicide squad, the guns and gangs unit, the intelligence services urban gang unit and divisional policing are all involved in the investigation.

"We will be deploying significant, additional uniform resources into the community affected and to any other area where we believe retaliatory violence may take place," Blair said.

Dispute prompted shooting

Police believe that at about 10:40 p.m. on Monday, two individuals got into a dispute at a block party that was being held on Danzig Street, in the Morningside Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East area.

"This altercation involved two individuals and as a result, there was an exchange of gunfire," Blair said.

Police previously confirmed that more than one weapon was fired and that a gun had been recovered at the scene.

Blair said police have also identified one person of interest.

CBC News spoke to witnesses who were in the Danzig Street area at the time of shooting.

Shelly Dupuis said she was sitting in her backyard on Monday night when she heard a series of “eight to 10 shots” fired.

“We came running through the back door, out through the front door, and there's people running everywhere screaming,” Dupuis said.

"People holding their kids, picking up their kids off the ground. People running everywhere …and then I come around the corner and there's lights. Wall to wall lights. I've never seen this many ambulances ever.

"It scares the hell out of me. It was about 10 houses down from where we live and my child could have been out there. My child could have been the one that got shot."

Shooting 'shocking to every Torontonian'

While police have made contact with some witnesses, Blair asked that anyone with information come forward to help investigators.

"In order to ensure that we very quickly bring this matter to a resolution, we are asking for the public’s help," said Blair.

Gibson added to that appeal on Tuesday afternoon, saying that the people who saw what happened can help make their city safer by working with police.

Police believe at least 100 people attended the party where the shooting occurred, Gibson said.

"Officers who attended the scene last night observed a chaotic one, with people fleeing on foot and in motor vehicles," he said.

"This is completely understandable due to the nature of the event and the circumstances. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that there were persons in attendance at this function who know the identity of those responsible for the murders and woundings of these citizens."

Blair previously spoke to reporters at the scene in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

"Tonight’s event is shocking to every Torontonian," Blair said just hours after the shooting. "It will be shocking to all of Canada, because of the number of the people injured. The level of violence is something we have never experienced."

Torontonians must 'carry on'

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford toured the scene of the Scarborough shooting on Tuesday morning.

While denouncing the violence, the mayor said that the city and its residents would have to "move on and carry on with their life" as police deal with the challenge of apprehending those responsible for the Monday night shooting.

One of those killed Monday night was Joshua Yasay, who graduated with an Honours BA in Criminology in June 2011, a spokesperson from York University in Toronto confirmed.

The other was Shyanne Charles who friends described as a generous person, a good student and a role model.

Faith Black, who knew Charles since she was little, said she first heard about her friend's death late Monday night. She described Charles as a good student who never got in any trouble.

"I'm still in denial, it hasn't really hit me yet," Black said. Charles, who played basketball at her school, was about to enter Grade 9 in September.

Kionna Jones, who had gone to school with Charles, said she last spoke to her friend a few weeks ago. Jones said she is not very athletic, but that Charles would help her with basketball.

"She was always generous and joyful. She was always up and about. She would never put anybody down," said Jones.

"She was really nice and good person to look up to."

Police have been dealing with a sharp increase in the number of shootings in the city of Toronto this year compared with last.

According to preliminary statistics posted on the police website, there have been 140 reported shooting incidents as of July 16.

That’s an increase of 32.1 per cent compared with the number reported at the same time last year.

Prior to the shooting on Monday evening, 16 people had been killed in gun-related homicides on the streets of Toronto since Jan. 1, compared with 14 people at the same time last year.

The Monday night shooting in Scarborough was also the latest event in which a gun was fired in a crowded space.

A shooting at the Eaton Centre on June 2 left one man dead and another fatally wounded.

Later that month, a man was shot dead on a crowded patio in Little Italy where patrons had gathered to watch a soccer game.

On Canada Day, a man was shot in the chest after the close of a fireworks show.

Ford said the recent high-profile shootings were "a couple of isolated and unfortunate incidents."

With files from The Canadian Press