TORONTO — Residents of a Toronto neighbourhood where two sisters were shot and wounded while they played in a local park questioned the safety of their community on Friday as police searched for two men involved in the brazen incident.
Grace Ballantyne, 69, said Thursday’s daylight shooting that sent the girls, aged five and nine, to hospital is unprecedented in the nearly 28 years she’s lived in the area in Scarborough, an eastern suburb of Toronto.
She said the shooting, which police said targeted someone other than the girls, took place in a playground that’s a hub of activity for local children.
“This is where they play every day, right next to where they live,” Ballantyne said. “I was shocked.”
The violence at the heart of the community, she said, has left her and her neighbours feeling as though they’re “not safe anywhere.”
Ballantyne said she plans to keep a closer eye on her own grandchildren as the community tries to make sense of what happened.
Toronto police remained on the scene of the shooting Friday morning as they continued their search for both the alleged shooter and someone believed to be a getaway driver.
The shooting unfolded late Thursday afternoon when a man allegedly fired shots at another man standing near the area where 11 children were playing, police have said.
Police said the young sisters were rushed to hospital with serious injuries, but both have since undergone surgery and are now in stable condition.
Ballantyne said the girls and their mother are a familiar sight in the neighbourhood, but said she did not know their names. Police have not released their identities.
The alleged shooter fled the area in a black, four-door 2007 to 2011 Nissan Versa sedan, police said, adding they’re on the hunt for the vehicle.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders called the shooting “a cowardly act” Thursday evening and urged the perpetrator’s friends to contact investigators.
“We are putting every resource on this to make sure we apprehend the person who would be motivated to do something like this in the city of Toronto,” he said. “We will be taking aggressive action toward resolving this particular investigation.”
Mayor John Tory said all of Toronto wants justice for the two girls.
“I cannot imagine the anguish the family and friends of the two girls shot while playing in a park are experiencing tonight,” he said in a statement Thursday night.
Tory is expected to discuss the playground shooting at a news conference later on Friday.