A Markham man was arrested yesterday in connection with a near-deadly playground shooting.
Toronto Police are still searching for two other suspects involved in the heinous crime, which sent two minors to the hospital.
21-year-old Sheldon Eriya, was charged with seven offences Friday, including two counts of attempted murder for shooting the two young girls. Eriya is set to return to court Thursday and is being held without bail.
Eriya was also charged with discharging a firearm, possession of cocaine with the purpose of trafficking, possession of proceeds of crime as well as two counts of aggravated assault.
Victims Are Recovering in Hospital
The two young victims — sisters aged only 5 and 9 — are currently recovering at the Sick Kids hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds to the stomach and ankle. The parents of the girls issued a statement through a hospital spokesperson on Saturday, asking for privacy.
“We wish to send our thanks to the entire community for the outpouring of support during this crisis. The response has been overwhelming, and we can’t express our gratitude enough… A very special thanks to the police officers and staff at 42 Division, Toronto Chief of Police Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory for their tireless efforts and for working round the clock. At this time the focus is on recovery of the girls. We ask that you keep them in your prayers for a speedy recovery.”
The shooting took place Thursday at about 5 pm at the playground of the Scarborough Alton Towers Community. At least seven shots were fired according to Police, who also said that the intended target was a man.
Eriya approached the park and opened fire, with complete disregard for the eleven children who were there.
Mayor Tory Talks Tough on Gun Violence
Merely hours after the shooting took place, the shooting became a political issue. Toronto Police Association head Mike McCormack criticized the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, over lack of police resources. Specifically, the 200 officers who are slated to be hired this year.
“I don’t want to be saying anymore, ‘Oh, our hearts and prayers are with the victims,’ ” he told the Star on Friday. “When will those 200 officers be on the street? That’s the question.”
Tory responded by condemning McCormack for what he referred to as the “ almost obscene haste” with which McCormack “moved to politicize this issue.”
In a separate press conference at City Hall Saturday, Tory issued a warning to “everyone else carrying a gun” in the GTA.
“ I sure think it’s time for us to be very aggressive in rounding these people up who carry these guns around,” he said, according to the CBC. “You are not going to terrorize this city, and you are not going to engage in this kind of anti-social, unacceptable behaviour.”
Gun violence has been on a steady increase since 2014 in Toronto. No one can seem to agree on how to combat the crime wave, with Tory calling for a war on guns and McCormack blaming a lack of resources, community leadership and education.
To date, the Toronto Police Service has reported nearly 200 shootings this year, and 7 in this month alone.