A horrific shooting on Sunday night on Danforth Avenue in Toronto has left three dead and 13 injured. The victims range from ages 10 to 59.
Video footage shows a man firing full rounds of a semi-automatic handgun into patron-filled restaurants. The fatal victims of the shooting include a 10-year-old girl, an 18-year-old nursing student, and the alleged perpetrator, who succumbed to gunshot wounds shortly after engaging in a firefight with police. Whether the suspect took his own life or received fatal gunshot wounds from police is still under investigation.
The Toronto police have identified the shooter as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain. His family has since released a statement that expresses their horror and devastation at the events and offers their condolences to those suffering from the tragedy. They also stressed that their son had been suffering from severe mental health issues including psychosis and depression.
Despite the family’s statement, the media has sought to whip up fears revolving around gang violence and terrorism with Toronto’s chief of police stating, “It’s way too early to rule out anything.”
The duplicitous response of conservative Mayor John Tory couched the shooting, which he called “an act of cowardly violence,” purely in terms of issues of gun control, saying “there are far too many people carrying around guns who should not have them.”
The newly elected Conservative Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, issued a statement calling for Ontario residents to “step forward [and] let the appropriate authorities know” about their suspicions of gun violence.
Whatever the immediate cause and motivation behind the social tragedy, it will be seized upon by a political establishment that is moving ever further to the right to ramp up the law-and-order measures at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.
Tory has responded to a recent wave of gun violence earlier by ordering the hiring of 200 new police officers and calling for harsher sentencing and additional funding from a $328 million federal government fund allocated to fighting “gang violence.”
For its part, Ford’s Conservative provincial government has been seeking to develop a reactionary base for its plans to intensify class war by gutting social spending and labour standards through the scapegoating of refugees, law-and-order rhetoric, and the courting of the police.
In a measure first announced by Ford in a letter to police associations, the provincial government suspended legislation, passed under the previous Liberal government, that would enhance the powers of the police oversight body which investigates police misconduct. A second consequence of the law's suspension will likely be a return to systematic police racial profiling or “carding.”
In their response to the recent spate of shootings in Toronto, both Premier Ford and Mayor Tory have focused exclusively on calls to increase the coercive powers of the state, while dismissing all suggestions that gun violence has social roots; particularly in the growth of poverty and the bleak job and education prospects for minority and immigrant youth.
The city of Toronto has seen a steady increase in gun violence over the past five years with 308 victims of gun shootings, including 29 fatalities since the beginning of the year as compared to only 11 deaths and 35 injuries in all of 2014.