Toronto's homicide tally for the year rose to 26 early Thursday after a man believed to be in his 20s was found shot to death on a quiet street in Etobicoke.
Police and paramedics responding to a 911 call found the victim on Meadowbank Road, near Highway 427 and Burnhamthorpe Road at around 4 a.m. Shot multiple times, the unidentified man was pronounced dead at the scene.
A neighbour watching television in a nearby home recounted hearing a volley of about four shots, followed by another burst of gunfire.
Police are seeking a dark coloured car seen speeding away, Det. Sgt. Pauline Gray of the homicide squad told reporters, adding that she is still trying to establish who the victim is.
The killing brings the year-to-date total to 26 – the same number as was recorded at this time in 2011.
Of this year's homicide victims, 16 were shot to death; compared to 14 at the same time last year.
The number of shootings overall, however, shows a larger increase. City-wide, 132 separate instances have been catalogued in 2012, compared to 102 at this time last year.
Mei Belanger said her 22-year-old daughter was awoken by "five or six" gunshots around 4 a.m., but couldn't see anything outside her bedroom window on the dark tree-lined street.
"She heard gunshots, and then the door slammed and a car took off, and that's it."
A woman house-sitting at a residence down the street from where the body was found said she initially thought the noise was mischievous raccoons crashing into garbage cans.
A few houses down, another neighbour was so surprised by the commotion that she jumped up in bed.
"I said, 'What was that?' My husband said, 'Let me look.' He thought it was kids with firecrackers," said Tammy, who declined to give her last name.
When she got up at 5:30 a.m., the area was roped off. Tammy said she kept her two children inside Thursday morning as the victim's body lay covered on a driveway down the street.
"It's a nice quiet street with lots of children. People walk their dogs and ride their bikes. It is kind of an odd thing to see out on the street," she says.
With a report from Jane Switzer