Phil watched the desperate mother pump her teenaged daughter’s chest as blood soaked her shirt. The teen sucked air in bursts, unable to take full breaths.
“Keep awake,” her sobbing mother said. “Keep awake.”
Phil looked at his watch, as he waited for help to arrive. Ten minutes passed. Then 20. Then 30.
“She was sucking air,” said Phil, who did not want to give his last name. “Then she took her last two breaths, real quick, then stopped.”
She died. So did a man in his early 20s after a Scarborough gun battle at around 10:40 p.m. Monday night that left 22 more — including a toddler, who is now in stable condition — wounded.
“So far we have been able to confirm that 19 people were transported from this location by ambulance to various hospitals throughout the Toronto region for treatment of gunshot wounds,” said Toronto police chief Bill Blair, speaking to reporters a few hours after the shooting on Danzig St., near Morningside Ave. and Lawrence Ave. E.
PHOTOS: Scarborough shooting scene
“Tonight’s event is unprecedented,” said Blair. “The level of violence is something we’ve never experienced.
“This is the worst incident of gunfire in memory.”
The victims range in age from infancy to mid-20s, police said.
The block party — or “blocko,” as many referred to it — is an annual event organized by the community, according to Donna Almarales, 22. This year, the party featured Caribbean barbecue, jerk chicken, DJs and, according to partygoers, the promise of free Hennessey cognac, which drew people from as far away as London, Ont.
Almarales and Jade Hooper, 18, had been at the party for about 20 minutes when they heard the gunshots.
“At first we just thought it was nothing, maybe someone was just playing around,” Almarales said. “And it turned out to be bloodshed.”
From there, it became chaos. As panic rippled through the crowd, people sprinted in every direction, many shouting the names of friends or loved ones.
“We were just looking for dead bodies,” Almarales said.
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On one side of the road, Almarales spotted a girl lying on the ground. On the other side, there was a young man lying face down. He had blood on his back.
“I tried slapping him to tell him to get up,” she recalled. “He just didn’t move. He didn’t move at all.”
But like several area residents who spoke to the Star, Almarales’s shock was overshadowed by the anger she felt about the police response. Many complained that emergency responders were slow to arrive and take control of the chaotic scene.
Almarales said that at one point, a man was trying to maneuver his car through the mob of people and transport one of the victims to safety. A police officer stopped him and beckoned him out of the car, she said.
“He was grabbing the police officer, (shouting), ‘Do something! Do something!’” she said. “And the cop was just going, ‘Everybody move, move.’ He was just in panic mode. He didn’t know what to do.”
A man named Chris, who declined to give his last name, said paramedics and firefighters quickly jumped on the man, trying to revive him. The man was pronounced dead shortly thereafter and draped with an orange blanket, a lone black Converse sneaker uncovered.
Blair insisted to reporters that there was a quick response to the scene with ambulances arriving “within minutes.” Police officers also came from across the city, he said.
“The response was very rapid and I think was successful in getting the injured to treatment in a very speedy way,” he said.