Imported gangs, guns, cited in Toronto shooting

Mon Jun 4, 2012 5:09pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - The gunman chose a busy downtown Toronto shopping mall to carry out the 21st murder of the year in Canada's largest city.

While the reckless shooting shocked a city that prides itself on its civility, visitors to the Eaton Centre mall on Monday insisted that Saturday's incident was most unCanadian, tied to foreign guns, immigrants and gangs.

"It's got to have been imported. The guns are imported from the United States and the violence is imported too," Jim Torrens, 82, a retired engineer, said at the Toronto mall, where a gunman killed one person and wounded six on Saturday, "Guns are the problem and it is a U.S. problem."

But a criminologist suggested that Canada is not as exceptional as many Canadians might imagine, plagued by many of the same social conditions that give rise to gangs and drug-related violence in other Western countries.

Police said Christopher Husbands, 23, already under house arrest, turned himself in on Monday and has been charged with first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. Local media said he was born in Guyana and immigrated to Toronto in 2000.

While Toronto officials and residents often tout the city's multiculturalism, the shooting quickly revived a debate about immigration and violence in a country that typically celebrates the former and abhors the latter.

Husbands and two of the victims, including the man who died, had ties to gangs. But police said the shooting was sparked by a personal disagreement rather than being directly gang-related.

The fact that the shooting happened in such a public place - one of Toronto's best-known tourist attractions - and at a date and time when tourists were out, meant the violence reaped far more attention than the typical Toronto gangland killing.   Continued...