For the city of Toronto, 2022 begins on a rather violent note with citizens witnessing their first few homicides within the first week. Unlike 2021, where the first homicide occurred on January 13, this year, Toronto saw a total of five murders in only 28 hours.
On January 2, Toronto police were called to the area of Weston Road and Highway 401 in North York regarding a shooting. They arrived on the scene to find 37-year-old Ariyo Fakomi suffering from gunshot wounds. Fakomi was then taken to a nearby hospital and died due to his injuries—marking the first incident of the year.
The following day, police responded to another call near the College and Clinton intersection around 8 p.m. where they found 30-year old Brittany Doff without vital signs. She was transported to the hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Soon after, Kadeem Nedrick, another 30-year-old, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
On the same day, two male gunshot victims were found, as well as a woman who was suffering from minor injuries in a triple shooting near Lake Shore Boulevard West and 30th street. All three victims were taken to the hospital, where both men were eventually pronounced dead. They were identified by police as 24-year old Minyali Wur and 20-year old Chudier Reat, who were both Mississauga natives.
Less than an hour later, police officers responded to a call at a residence in the Palace Pier Court and Lake Shore Boulevard West area. They found Giovanni Raimondi, a 39-year old Toronto resident, with serious injuries who died at the scene. Toronto investigators are asking that anyone with information on Raimondi’s death or his whereabouts that day contact the police. Raimondi was among seven men charged with murder conspiracy in a Canada contraband bust in June 2020.
This turbulent start to 2022 leaves many individuals to wonder whether these attacks are indicative of a trend that will continue to grow in the new year. However, experts say that this is not the case.
According to statistics, Toronto averages between five and eight homicides for the month of January. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, January saw five homicides, while January 2020 had eight, and January 2021 had six.
Statistics Canada reported that in the wake of the pandemic, the overall police-reported crime decreased. Yet they noted that societal stress brought on by lockdowns resulted in a rise in certain categories. The murder rate in 202o rose to its highest since 2005; police forces reported 743 murders as compared to 687 in 2019.
Professor Julius Haag of University of Toronto Mississauga’s Sociology department writes to the Toronto Star, “We should always be concerned about rising homicide rates, but it’s too early to infer anything from this high starting point for January, or what this says about us as a society.”
Professor Haag also mentions that the effects of the pandemic on crime rates are complex and require further analysis.
Founder of Diversity Institute at Ryerson University and President of the Coalition for Gun Control, Wendy Cukier agrees with Haag’s findings and states that the data is insufficient to draw any conclusions. Cukier goes on to say, “More concerning are the persistently high rates of gun homicides in recent years and the lack of concrete action.”
Given this information, some factors that influence homicide rates in Toronto, and other urban cities, include gang-related crimes, gun violence, and low socioeconomic areas.
There are many evidence-based approaches to preventing crimes, such as social development initiatives and stringent gun control laws. Cukier notes that such laws, like Bill C71 passed in 2019, are yet to be implemented.
On the bright side, in recognition of Crime Stoppers Month, the Toronto Police Service acknowledges that despite the pressures of working in a global pandemic, the program has significantly influenced crime and safety in the community.
The program processed tips that contributed to the solving of eight murders, 105 arrests, the laying of 780 charges, and the seizure of 18 firearms. Going into 2022, Toronto Crime Stoppers has several successful campaigns and international acknowledgments.
With already a rough start to the new year, it is clear that the city of Toronto is taking action against these homicides and doing its best to prevent more casualties.