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Leslieville residents concerned after shooting on anniversary of woman’s death by stray bullet

Leslieville residents concerned after shooting on anniversary of woman’s death by stray bullet
Leslieville residents concerned after shooting on anniversary of woman’s death by stray bullet

As jazz music played at a festival in Jimmie Simpson Park in Leslieville on Sunday, few people knew that a man had been shot and suffered life-threatening injuries in the building across the street.

The shooting happened exactly one year ago. Caroline Huebner-Makurat, an innocent bystander, was shot dead by a stray bullet a few blocks away.

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

Toronto police say the 24-year-old suspect in Sunday’s shooting is wanted on a number of charges, including attempted murder, and is believed to have fled on an electric scooter.

As yellow tape was hung and detectives descended on Queen Street East and Booth Avenue, the tapes of the large memorial in the park for Makurat, a 44-year-old mother of two, were still unidentified.

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

Sean Dennie has lived in the building for 10 years. He says many struggle with addiction, but security doesn’t do enough to keep out unwanted visitors, with some dealers manning multiple units until they’re allowed in.

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

“When the police are there, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the park, across the street, or in the building. The building closes down and no one comes by.”

Woodgreen Community Services has operated the building since the 1980s, providing shelter to people who are homeless or have difficulty finding long-term housing.

A statement said this was the first incident of its kind and that security was being tightened 24 hours a day.

“The safety and wellbeing of our clients and the community remains a top priority and following the incident we are focused on ensuring all tenants feel safe and supported in their homes. Security was and remains on site,” the operator said, adding that neither the victim nor the suspect are tenants.

Toronto police data shows that shootings in the area remain low. Police did not tell CTV News Toronto whether officers frequently patrol the building or whether it is known as a drug hotspot.

They did share information about a recent initiative in the South Riverdale and Danforth areas, where they made more than 70 arrests between November 2023 and July 2024. More than a third of those arrests were for drug offenses, and several drugs were seized as well.

Some argue that even greater efforts are needed to stop shootings.

“It’s clearly not licensed gun owners doing this stuff, so that’s the biggest issue to me,” said one woman who lives in the neighborhood. “The timing is obviously crazy, but there clearly needs to be some more extra presence or support. Mental health is a big thing that needs to happen in this country.”