How many guns does it take for three attempted murders, a bus driver shooting and a local homicide?
Just one, because apparently, criminals know how to share, too.
“Firearms get passed around quite a bit,” said Constable Wendy Drummond, of the Toronto Police Services.
“There is talk of guns for hire — past cases in which somebody has a gun and they will rent it out for a certain amount of money.”
Due to ongoing investigations, police cannot say whether these types of transactions were behind the use of the same Belgian-made 9mm Browning gun used in four attempted murders and one homicide by different people.
At a press conference on Jan. 29, Police Chief Bill Blair revealed ballistics analysis and evidence obtained at the various crime scenes linking the 9mm to two different attempted murders in Scarborough, an attempted murder in Durham region, the 2003 murder of Kempton Howard and the 2005 local shooting of TTC driver Jamie Pereira.
“I think it is evidence of the destructive power of even a single firearm in the hands of criminals,” Blair said. “It reinforces my belief that we must do everything in our power to limit access to handguns throughout our city.”
Two officers were trying to do just that when they spotted the handle of a firearm on a 19-year-old man waiting for the elevator in an apartment at 4062 Lawrence Ave. E. on Feb. 9.
When they moved in to arrest the man, he allegedly resisted and assaulted the officers, trying to disarm one of them in the process.
After the scuffle, the officers say they seized a loaded, sawed-off, 12-gauge shotgun from the man.
He was then arrested and charged with 10 offences including possession of a firearm obtained by the commission of an offence and disarming a police officer.
Like many of the guns passed around by criminals, Drummond said the shotgun was stolen, likely from a gun shop or legal owner.
It has not returned from forensic testing so it is not yet known if it was used in any other crimes.
East Scarborough residents are lucky that even one gun was taken off the streets because once a gun is in the hands of a criminal, he or she could use it for their own means or pass it around — a practice police are becoming increasingly aware of.
Drummond said guns are lent out for “any offence committed with a firearm. Street robberies, convenience store robberies, home invasions or just people getting into altercations on the street.”
When someone is caught with a firearm that has been used in many crimes, the police must begin a thorough investigation.
“If it’s not registered it’s hard to prove the continuity and whose hands it was in,” said Drummond. “We look at the forensic information, witness type information, admissions . . . we link collaborative evidence.”
A gun that has been used in many crimes recovered by police could be the missing piece to unsolved investigations.
However, the trend of criminals sharing weapons multiplies the threat of the many stolen guns in Toronto.