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Police Chief Bill Blair breaks silence on Etobicoke shooting deaths

10/10/2014 08:38 EDT | Updated 12/10/2014 05:59 EST
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair broke his silence Thursday on the rash of gun violence plaguing some areas of the city, saying that gang violence is declining but that many young people are still “adopting gang culture.”

“Naturally I'm very concerned with what we've seen as an escalation of violence,” said Blair after a Toronto Police Services Board meeting.

On Monday, a shooting near Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School in north Etobicoke left two students — 17-year-old Zaid Youssef and 15-year-old Michael Menjivar — dead. The day before, a 47-year-old man was fatally shot during a robbery in the area of Weston Road and Rogers Road.

After the shooting death of Jordan Manners in May 2007 at C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute, Blair immediately spoke out. Many have questioned why Blair had seemingly been mute on the incidents this week.

After saying that the communication in these cases falls to homicide investigators, Blair touted his forces’ efforts to end gang violence in Toronto.

“What we are seeing now is young people not necessarily deeply entrenched in a particular gang but adopting a gang culture a gang mentality of using violence to resolve disputes.”

Despite the string of incidents, Blair said that police have made significant progress since 2005’s infamous ‘summer of the gun’ that saw an outburst of gang-related shootings ring out across the city. Particularly, Blair said, Toronto’s high schools have become safer places for students to learn.

“I think we've made real progress in ensuring the safety of our schools. But unfortunately tragic incidents can happen either in schools or near schools.”

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