It was supposed to be a safe, affordable home for Ontarians with nowhere else to go. But inside, it was horrifying: an 11-year-old boy, a man who had just been shot in the face, an elderly woman in a wheelchair and a couple of dogs.
A young man was killed in that home just weeks after the province removed the ban on new builds like theirs. Two more people were gunned down by an unknown gunman outside their door, after a family had just received a new home of their own.
“It was just awful. It was very sad. It was very hard to see somebody at that point like they are dead.”
So much so that in late March, the mother of a young boy, still only 13, called Toronto police on the advice of a social worker, to tell them her son had been killed in a shooting at a Toronto house, where they were renting.
She asked officers to take a photo of her son before she passed away.
Then, in the summer of 2017, a housewife from Montreal called Toronto police, telling them her husband had been shot outside her rented home in Scarborough.
The same day, a man shot a woman in the head while he lived at her rented home in north Etobicoke.
The following year, a woman called Toronto police to say her son had been shot in the head at a Toronto house.
In all, an estimated 15 lives were lost through firearms violence in 2017 – twice as many as the year before. In the months that followed, police made a total of five calls about shootings at rental homes in Toronto.
Police say the calls are common all over the city, with many of them stemming from mistakes someone made or from mental illness or substance abuse.
While Toronto police have launched an investigation into the spate of shootings, it’s a very different story from the one portrayed by the city, which is now embroiled in a lawsuit with a gun maker over the city’s failure to properly implement its