Toronto police are about to crack down on gangs operating across two divisions near the city’s core in the wake of the Eaton Centre shooting. “We are going to take back the neighbourhoods,” a police source told the Star. The initiative, nicknamed Project Post, will target two gangs, the Project Originals and Sic Thugs. (Post is an acronym of their names.) The police project will launch in the next few days. A meeting will be held Wednesday to map out operational plans. The plan was actually in the development stage for the past two or three weeks, but has gained a new sense of urgency after one man was fatally shot and six others wounded in a barrage of gunfire at the mall’s food court just before 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The accused shooter, Christopher Husbands, 23, and the city’s 21st homicide victim, Ahmed Hassan, 24, were members of the Sic Thugs, police said. A third, unidentified man who is still in hospital with neck and chest wounds is believed to be a member of the Sic Thugs. Husbands faces one count of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. There was only one gunman, police say. Project Post’s multi-tiered response will involve enforcement and a community information campaign as well as the Guns and Gangs Task Force and TAVIS rapid-response teams. The project will also involve everything from rounding up suspected criminals, more bail compliance checks, identifying who the players are, stepped-up patrols and finding gang members and associates on outstanding arrest warrants. Police are investigating whether there is a link between the Eaton Centre shooting and one earlier that day on Grange Court, near Dundas St. W. and Spadina Ave. In that shooting, a man was targeted on the street. Police believe they know who the shooter is and that it is likely gang related. Many of the shootings have occurred in Regent Park in 51 Division and Alexandra Park in 14 Division, the focus of Project Post. However, 52 Division will be targeted as well because this division, which extends west from Yonge St. to Spadina Ave., lies between the other two and gangs have been known to cross territories. There has been a spike in shootings in the Regent Park and Alexandra Park areas in the past few months and police want to “do something about it before it gets worse,” the source said. Hassan and others stabbed and robbed Husbands on Feb. 28, a public housing official said. On May 28, shots were fired outside Hassan’s Regent Park apartment on Dundas St., prompting him to move away and stay with friends near Spadina Ave. and Alexandra Park. The Sic Thugs and Project Originals have been on the police radar for at least two years. They are loosely organized groups involving aspiring rappers who ply the drug trade. In January 2007, police said they had taken out the leadership of the Project Originals after arresting five young men in a raid on the Atkinson Co-op west of Spadina Ave., between Dundas and Queen Sts. In all, nine people were arrested after police executed search warrants in the Vanauley Walk area. Police laid 39 charges including cocaine trafficking, failing to comply with a recognizance order and robbery. They also seized 100 grams of crack cocaine and 255 grams of cocaine. About two years ago, a rap studio in the Cherry Beach area was raided and about 10 people were arrested, Hassan among them. A community meeting was held in September 2010 to discuss the two gangs’ criminal activity. One month earlier, Project Diffuse was put into action to respond to shootings and assaults between the gangs. Members from both groups were involved in drug trafficking, assaults, robberies and firearms offences. Part of the police response was to check on those released from detention to ensure they were observing their release conditions. However, in the Eaton Centre shootings, the accused was under house arrest for a sex assault charge.
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