TORONTO — Some of the children who witnessed a brazen shooting at a Toronto-area playground that sent two young sisters to hospital have been left traumatized and suffering from nightmares, police said Friday as they continued their manhunt for the shooters.
Det. Sgt. Jim Gotell said they believe there were 16 children playing at the park in the city’s east end on June 14 when two men got out of a truck and opened fire.
“A lot of these children are suffering from nightmares and they don’t want to go back to the park,” Gotell told a news conference.
Officers haven’t spoken to all those children, Gotell said, and parents have been asked to contact police so they can help arrange counselling services.
The two injured girls, aged five and nine years old, underwent several surgeries and are recovering at home, he said. The five-year-old was shot in her abdomen while the nine-year-old was shot above her ankle.
Gotell said the two suspected shooters, along with a getaway driver who has since been arrested and charged, targeted a man who was at the park with his child.
When the bullets flew — at least 10 rounds were fired — the intended target bolted with his child and has not been found, Gotell said.
“We know who he is and we have been looking for him the past two weeks,” Gotell said, adding that he doesn’t believe the man was injured in the shooting.
Canada-wide warrants have been issued for Tarrick Rhoden and T’Quan Robertson, both 23, on charges including attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Gotell believes the two are likely in the Toronto area.
Robertson is rapper who goes by the name Top Gunna, he said. Police have watched a video of Robertson posted on YouTube that was filmed the day before the shooting, he said.
In the video, Robertson talks about hip hop, his singing style and growing up in Scarborough.
“It helps us out who his associates may be and his lifestyle pattern,” Gotell said, adding that it’s a matter of time before the two are in handcuffs.
He also warned anyone who helps hide the suspects will face accessory after the fact charges.
Police previously arrested 21-year-old Sheldon Eriya, of Markham, Ont., who allegedly drove the vehicle that took the suspects from the east Toronto co-operative housing development where the shootings took place.
Gotell said police have been getting a lot of tips from sources who don’t usually help in these investigations.
“I actually had somebody who said in a letter to police that normally they wouldn’t contact police with information about a shooting like this, but quote, ‘this one crossed a line,'” he said.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press