Friday, April 13, 2007

Feeling unsafe in my own home-I don't like it

Toronto had its 17th and 18th homicides of the year last night. Here's how a CTV Web story describes #17:

…around 10 p.m. Thursday, emergency crews attended to a man who had been shot in the stomach at an east end apartment building.

He later died after being rushed to Sunnybrook hospital. The name of the man, who was in his 30s, has not been released.
A short report, another Toronto murder. Except this one happened in my apartment building, on my floor, 20 feet down the fall from my front door.

I don't exactly live in a high-end building, but I wouldn't have considered it a bad building either. It's a multicultural building, lots of new Canadians, lots of families. Low to mid income. There's a daycare on the ground floor, and an elementary school across the street. Just a 10 minute bus ride from work.

I've never felt unsafe there before. And my hall in particular has always been quiet, until a young couple moved in down the hall a few months ago that always seemed to have screaming fights, at the top of their lounges. One of them called the police out once.

I'd learned to tune them out, and I figured that it was just another fight when I heard some loud yelling last night while surfing the blogs on my laptop and half-watching hockey on the tv. My ears did perk-up a little when I heard what sounded like a bottle smashing followed by a bang.

I was more peeved at the thought of having to navigate broken glass in the morning in the hall though. I figured the bang, which didn't sound that loud, was just the door slamming. Door slams were a regular part of the fights I'd tuned out. It wasn't until later I learned it must have been a gun shot.

That was a little while later, when the lights started flashing out in front of the building, and paramedics and police officers descended on the hallway. As the story says, the guy was apparently alive when they wheeled him out but died later at Sunnybrook. Officers questioned the neighbors and I tried to get to sleep around 1:00 am.

I woke-up in the morning and got ready for work and eager to get the heck outta there, but hearing talking in the hallway I was a bit frightened to leave. I swallowed and did, finding six or more detectives and officers on folding chairs in the hallway having a meeting. Most of my hall was taped-off, all the fire doors caked with fingerprint powder, and a forensics van parked out front.

I got to work, did a Google news search, and found out that indeed, Toronto's 17th homicide happened 20 feet from my front door.

As I said, I've never felt unsafe in my home before. And I don't like it. I've blogged before about the disconnect between crime statistics, which are falling, and fear of crime, which is rising. While I still don't support "tough on crime" policies that don't actually prevent crime, I do understand now the feelings and the fears that many have. Falling or not, when it happens in your neighborhood its frightening.

What's the answer though? I don't know. There's no easy answers. For me though, it's to find a new place to live and sooner, rather than later. Anyone know any nice, affordable, safe communities in Toronto?

UPDATE: The Toronto Sun has a fuller account of the incident. (h/t Joanne)

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10 comments:

bigcitylib said...

I remember my old building near Eglinton/Laird where every time you slammed a door someone would report it to the police. They were just that damned loud.

generalmoron said...

Ha... good thing you live in Toronto and not down the 401 in Detroit Michigan... they have more homicides in a year than the entire nation of Canada.

I'm sure the average Detroiter would love it if they only had 17-18 homicides this year.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Vote Conservative for tough-on-crime bills.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Joanne, I don't want to make this thread a political discussion. We can do that over on your site.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sorry, Jeff.

It sounds like a very scary thing to happen so close. We lived in Toronto several years ago. Came home from work and the place was cleaned out. I was 8 months pregnant. My shower gifts were scattered. Family rings gone. It was devastating.

Jason Cherniak said...

It sounds like domestic violence to me. I'm not sure you can avoid that in even the safest location.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Jeff, I live in a small town in Ontario. Been here for 23 years. Nobody has been murdered here in at least 23 years. However, 75% of the homes here have at least one gun in them, and most have 3 or 4 guns. Some, like mine, have big gun collections. Reason I bring this up is pretty simple. The Liberal gov't spent 2 Billion dollars registering our guns. Guns we use for hunting. Just think of how many extra police officers we could have put on the streets for $2,000,000,000.00
I thought about it when I sat on our police services board. Especially when we had our budget discussion and had to decide if we could afford to have police available 24 hours a day. Or if we'd have to cut back our policing to only 20 hours a day...
One of the points brought up was "we live in a pretty safe town that isn't like Toronto".

BTW, I also like the conservatives idea's on crime

Chuckercanuck said...

jeff,

that's a horrifying experience and you are certainly entitled to feel a little "unsoft" on crime for a bit and then go limp on crime again once the problem seems far, far away from you.

but spare a thought later: maybe people get very "academic" (read: soft) on crime when they feel its someone else's problem and therefore not really something they have to solve.

bottom line: I wish it were like lightning and say you are now safest where you are. but..... come live in Montreal! Affordable and safe.

Nematode said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Rat said...

That sucks, Jeff, politics aside it isn't right to feel afraid in your own home. Still, if this was domestic violence it is pretty hard to avoid it.

When you're ready to talk politics . . .