In the span of just a few weeks, Toronto has seen a total of nine murders corresponding to a recent unexplained rise in gun violence in the city. While Toronto, like any other city, is not immune to shootings, the increased frequency in which they have recently occurred is still a disturbing reality for many residents to face. 

There have been over 162 shootings in Toronto this year so far; the most the city has seen in the past five years. 81 of those shootings occurred in April and May alone, with over 104 victims seen during that period. The most recent shooting occurred just yesterday — in the heart of the city at Yonge-Dundas Square, on a night when several people were out enjoying the warm weather.

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"The incidents of gun violence we have seen in our city in the past few days are shocking and can in no way be accepted or brushed aside," said Mayor John Tory in a statement on Thursday. "As mayor, I am troubled by every act of violence in our city regardless of where it happens."

And so is everyone else in the city. As police scramble to find answers, the entire city remains troubled with a single question in mind: What the f--- is going on in Toronto?

Toronto shootings: A timeline

Here are the most recent shootings that have plagued Toronto these past few weeks:

May 31, 2018 — A victim of a shooting in the west-end of Toronto is sustaining life-threatening injuries. The man was found in the hallway of a high-rise building near Weston Rd. and Sheppard Ave. with a gunshot wound to the body. This is the second major shooting to happen in Toronto in less than 24 hours.

May 31, 2018 — Israel Edwards, 18, from Pickering, was shot multiple times at Yonge-Dundas square around 11:00 pm. Three suspects were seen fleeing the area and have not yet been found.

May 29, 2018 — Matthew Staikos, 37, was shot in the head at the intersection of Bay St. And Yorkville Ave. around 11:30 pm. At least three gunshots were fired. According to CCTV footage, the gunman fled the scene in a silver or grey four-door Mercedes. Around the same time, another man was found with non-life-threatening gunshot injuries near Yorkdale Mall.

May 28, 2018 — Three people are in custody after gunshots were fired in downtown Toronto. Masked men got out of a car at Parliament St. and Shuter St. armed with guns. Undercover cops were present during the whole ordeal and luckily no one was injured or killed.

May 23, 2018 — Two hooded suspects walked around the Regent Park community armed with guns just after midnight. One of the gunmen held his pistol to the back of the head of a person standing on River St., but immediately walked away after, leaving the person unsure of what just happened. A few minutes later, the two gunmen chased another person into the lobby of 220 Oak St. where they shot him in the leg and fled. Police are still looking for the suspects and no motive has been identified.

May 27, 2018 — Four separate shootings occurred in different locations across the city. Three individuals were hurt — the first in Kensington Market, the second in St. James Town and the third in Scarborough. The fourth victim, Venojan Suthesan, 21, was unfortunately shot and killed near Lester B. Pearson Collegiate at Sheppared Ave. E. and Neilson Rd.

May 20, 2018 — Mohammad Garda, 17, was shot near Scarborough near Ellesmere Ave. and Markham Rd in what seems to be a targeted attack. Another man, Jaiden Jackson, 28, was also shot that night as he was leaving Drake's restaurant near Wellington St. and Yonge St. Jackson was shot 20 times by two perpetrators who left in a black car.

Some of the cases could be linked

 The successive pattern of the shootings has many people wondering if they are all linked to each other somehow. Could they be a part of some brewing turf war? Are the victims being specifically targeted? Is there a single group responsible for the recent killings?

One common thread among the shootings is that the majority of them occurred at high-traffic intersections. This is disturbing, since the perpetrators did not seem concerned that they were committing the murders completely in the open. Such disregard of the presence of others could indicate that the shooters only had certain targets in mind.

Some of the murders, such as those of Venojan Suthesan and Jaiden Jackson,  appear to be highly targeted cases; however, they may still be completely unrelated to each other as no connections have been made between the victims (as of yet). 

An even worse theory is that the shootings are actually randoms sprees. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old man was arrested for committing random acts of gun violence across the city. The gunman, Adam Abdi, had been hit with 48 counts of attempted murder and weapons charges after shooting at random strangers for no apparent reason. Could the recent shootings in Toronto be part of some sadistic game among troubled individuals?

Mark Pugash, a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said that it's still too early to say whether the cases are actually linked; however, police are still investigating the possibility. 

"People want simple answers to complicated issues. We can't get into specifics about what we're doing [as part of our investigations, but certainly the arrest on Monday night was not a random occurrence," Pugash says in regards to a recent takedown of a shooter on Parliament Street and Dundas Street East.

Is Toronto turning into Chicago?

Although Chicago's history of gun violence runs much deeper than Toronto's, many people are still making comparisons between the two:

In reality, there isn't really much of a comparison — Chicago sees much more gun-related homicides than Toronto annually

But the fact that Torontonians are still making the comparison despite this knowledge is indicative of the strong impact the shootings are having on the city.

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