Two dead in shooting at Toronto street party, 23 injured

TORONTO Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:53pm EDT

1 of 8. A police officer walks the crime scene as people look on following a shooting in Scarborough, a suburb in east Toronto, July 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Two people were killed and 23 injured when a Toronto street party ended in gunfire late on Monday, raising fears of violent retaliation in Canada's largest city.

In the second high-profile shooting in Toronto in less than two months, a 14-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man were killed. Police said a toddler was grazed by a bullet and is expected to recover, while another victim was in critical condition.

"We are very concerned, not only with the quick resolution and solving of this crime, but of the potential for retaliatory violence," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told a news conference at which he promised to step up police presence in several parts of the city.

He said there was a "strong indication" of gang involvement in the incident. One of the injured has been taken into custody as "a person of interest".

Police said more than 100 people attended the outdoor party in suburban Scarborough, about 20 km (15 miles) east of downtown. One man shot another, and then "a number of subsequent gunshots were fired into the crowd," a police statement said.

The shooting raised fears about gun violence in a city that takes pride in its relatively low crime rate compared with U.S. urban centers. Canada has very strict laws controlling the use of handguns, and violent crime is usually rare.

But barely six weeks ago, two people were killed and six wounded in a gang-related weekend shooting at the downtown Eaton Centre, one of Toronto's top tourist destinations.

"I am shocked and disgusted by this senseless act of violence," Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said in a statement.

"I can assure you, Toronto is not like Detroit," Ford told reporters on Tuesday.

The murders were the 27th and 28th this year in Toronto. Detroit, a far smaller U.S. city, had 184 murders by mid-July.

(Additional reporting by Frank McGurty; Editing by Myra MacDonald and Janet Guttsman)

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