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'It's unfathomable': Leslieville residents concerned following shooting on anniversary of woman's death by stray bullet

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With jazz music playing at a festival in Leslieville’s Jimmie Simpson Park on Sunday, few knew that a man had been shot and sustained life-threatening injuries in the building across the street.

The shooting came one year to the day that Caroline Huebner-Makurat, an innocent bystander, was shot and killed by a stray bullet just a few blocks away.

“It’s unfathomable,” said one woman who was walking by the park on Monday. “I just don’t know what’s going through people’s minds or what they’re thinking.”

Toronto Police said the 24-year-old suspect in Sunday’s shooting is wanted on a number of charges, including attempted murder, and that he took off on an electric scooter.

As yellow tape went up and investigators descended to Queen Street East and Booth Avenue, the ribbons from the large park memorial that took place for Makurat, a 44-year-old mother of two, are still on the fence.

“It’s hard because I love Leslieville,” said a man walking in the park. “It’s the only community that I’ve been living in in Toronto, but at the same time it’s scary, because you don’t know when it’s going to happen next.”

Sean Dennie has lived in the building for a decade. He says many are struggling with addiction, but that security doesn’t do enough to keep out unwanted visitors, with some dealers buzzing multiple units until they’re let in.

“It’s a revolving door, morning noon and night,” he told CTV News Toronto Monday.

“When the police are here, it doesn’t matter if they are in the park, across the street or in the building, the building shuts down, nobody comes around.”

Woodgreen Community Services has been operating the building since the 1980s and houses people who are experiencing homelessness or difficulty securing long-term housing.

It said in a statement this is the first incident of its kind and that security is being increased around the clock.

“The safety and wellbeing of our clients and community remains a top priority and in the aftermath of the event, we are focused on ensuring all tenants are feeling safe and supported in their homes. Security has been, and will continue to be, onsite,” the operator said, adding that both the victim and the suspect are not tenants.

Toronto Police data shows the neighbourhood shooting rate in the area remains low. Police did not tell CTV News Toronto if officers check on this building often or if it’s known as a problem spot for drugs.

They did share information about a recent initiative in the South Riverdale and Danforth areas in which they made over 70 arrests between November 2023 and July 2024. More than one third of those arrests were for drug offences and several drugs were also seized.

Some argue an even wider effort is needed to stop shootings.

“Clearly, they are not licensed gun owners who do these things, so that’s the biggest issue in my opinion,” said one woman who lives in the area. “The timing is obviously insane, but clearly there needs to be a little more extra presence or help. Mental health is a big thing that needs to happen in this country."

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