Residents shocked by death of woman hit by stray bullet in Toronto
The Canadian PressNews shooting toronto
By William Eltherington and Jordan Omstead in Toronto
Shaken residents of an east Toronto neighbourhood worked Monday to process the aftermath of a shooting that killed a bystander with a stray bullet, as police searched for three suspects.
Police say 44-year-old Karolina Huebner-Makurat was killed while walking in the area of Queen Street and Carlaw Avenue around 12:20 p.m. on Friday. She was hit by a bullet after a group of three men were in an altercation nearby and two of them fired guns at each other, police said.
Flowers, candles and a few notes were visible Monday in the Leslieville neighbourhood where Huebner-Makurat was shot.
“It could’ve been anyone. It could’ve been any mother, any father, anyone in this neighbourhood. It’s just really awful,” said Lara Shaw, a Leslieville resident.
A man who identified himself as Huebner-Makurat’s husband posted on social media after Friday’s shooting, asking for privacy and calling it a “tragic day.”
“Life is short. Hug your loved ones every moment you get the chance,” wrote Adrian Makurat, on a profile filled with pictures of the couple and two young girls.
Mayor-elect Olivia Chow extended her condolences to Karolina Huebner-Makurat’s family on Monday, calling what happened a “horrible tragedy.”
“The challenge before me when I become mayor is to find ways to end gun violence and all types of violence,” said Chow, who won a byelection last month and is set to take office on Wednesday.
Will Jennings and Gabrielle Jennings, who have lived in the Leslieville neighbourhood for around five years, said the shooting has shocked them and their neighbours.
“She was just an innocent bystander, which is pretty horrifying,” Will Jennings said of Huebner-Makurat.
Gabrielle Jennings added, “I think everyone feels like this sort of, could have been us. It could’ve been me. I was there two days before.”
They said it called to mind the horrifying scene five years ago this month, when the couple lived in nearby Greektown, and a gunman went on a shooting rampage along Danforth Avenue, killing two young girls and injuring 13 others.
“Here we are in the midst of another one,” Will Jennings said.
Huebner-Makurat is the city’s 32nd homicide of the year. Police data indicates 12 of those victims were killed in a shooting, 13 in a stabbing and seven in other unspecified incidents.
Publicly available police data – current as of Saturday – shows reported shootings are at a five-year low, dating back to 2019. So far this year, there have been 153 reported shootings or firearm discharges, compared to a high of 225 in 2020, or the next lowest mark of 187 in 2021.
While homicides and reported shootings are down so far, police data indicates assaults are trending up by about 18 per cent compared to the five-year average by this time of year.
Police released pictures of three suspects in Friday’s shooting and made an appeal to the public for help identifying them. Two of the suspects are described as between 18 and 25 years old, while the other man is thought to be 25 to 30.
A police spokesperson said Monday morning there were no updates to share.
Ben Tutu was in the area Friday when he heard three bangs and saw people running from the direction of Carlaw and Queen. Once police arrived, he walked up to the area and “saw the chaos,” he said.
Asked why he returned to area on Monday, he said his “heart was heavy all weekend.”
“An innocent lady shouldn’t have to lose her life … getting shot out of nowhere, and leaving two kids and a husband behind,” he said.
As he drove to the area on Monday, Tutu said he had heard news of another shooting that morning near Toronto’s busy intersection of Yonge and Bloor streets. A man and a woman in their 20s had been taken to hospital with serious injuries in what police indicated may have been a road rage incident turned violent.
“The city needs to do better,” Tutu said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2023.
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