A gunman has opened fire on a busy avenue in Toronto, killing a young woman and injuring 13 other people, one of them critically, police say. The victim critically injured in the Canadian city’s Greektown district is a girl of eight or nine, they add. The gunman is dead, reportedly killed in an exchange of shots. The attack erupted on Danforth Avenue on Sunday evening, when the area was teeming with people, Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reports. The motive for the shooting, which reportedly targeted at least two cafes or restaurants, is still unclear.
In a video clip shared by Canadian media, a white man wearing a dark cap and dark clothing and carrying a shoulder bag can be seen stopping on a pavement and pulling out a handgun before firing shots. Some of the victims were treated at the scene, while others were taken to local hospitals. Police are appealing for witnesses. Toronto Mayor John Tory condemned the “despicable” attack on “people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening”. The premier of the province of Ontario, Doug Ford, tweeted a message of support to the victims of the attack.
Gun violence is much rarer in Canada than over the border in the US, but Toronto has seen attacks increase dramatically in recent years. Shootings in the city over a holiday weekend earlier this month led to Mayor Tory saying he was working to get more police patrolling the streets. Mayor Tory said the attack was “evidence of a gun problem” in the city. “Guns are too readily available to too many people,” he told reporters. Police data show the number of shootings in Toronto more than doubled between 2014 and 2017 from 177 to 395.
While it is not known how the Greektown gunman obtained his weapon, there has long been pressure to tighten gun control in the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal party wants tougher background checks, including screening people with a history of violence. Gun control has often sparked divisive debates in Canada, which has a large rural population where guns are widely owned and used.