toronto fireworks

Toronto teens charged after police officer hit with fireworks at Woodbine Beach

It may technically be legal to set off fireworks in some parts of Toronto on Canada Day, but police are reminding young residents this week that nobody can use explosives as weapons with impunity. Not ever, but especially not when their projectiles happen to hit a cop in the head.

Eight people under the age of 21 have been arrested and are facing criminal charges, according to authorities in Toronto, after fireworks were allegedly shot into crowds of people — and directly at police officers — at Woodbine Beach on July 1.

"The Toronto Police Service would like to make the public aware of numerous arrests after fireworks were allegedly fired at beach-goers and officers," the service announced late Monday.

"It is not only illegal to set off fireworks in Toronto public parks and beaches but it is also extremely dangerous in crowds of people. Anyone caught doing so can be arrested and criminally charged."

Police say that "many people" were at Woodbine Beach after sunset on Thursday, July 1, observing a particularly controversial Canada Day when officers "observed individuals armed with fireworks shooting the fireworks into the crowds, as well as at officers and horses."

The chaos lasted about 20 minutes, from 9:30 p.m. until 9:50 p.m., and resulted in at least one police officer being struck in the head. Thankfully, the officer was not harmed and no serious injuries were reported among members of the crowd.

As a result of what took place, a 12-year-old boy, two 16-year-old boys, two 17-year-old boys, a 17-year-old girl, a 19-year-old man and a 20-year-old man are all now facing multiple charges, including one count each of "Weapons Dangerous" and "Common Nuisance."

The former offence, as set out in the Criminal Code of Canada, carries with it a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

"Officers are there to protect the public and keep people safe – firing fireworks at them or members of the public is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated," wrote police in a news release.

"Police, along with City of Toronto Bylaw Enforcement Officers, will continue to patrol and monitor beaches, including Woodbine and Ashbridges Bay, enforcing against fireworks and any illegal activities."

This is far from the first time young people in Toronto have been caught shooting roman candles at each other in public parks, but illegal fireworks in general have become more of a problem than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit.

Last summer saw some 172 illegal fireworks-related incidents across the city, up from just 81 the year previous, and this past Victoria Day — the only other calendar date during which fireworks are approved on private property in Toronto — was just as rife with dangerous behaviour.

Those who need any further proof of how dangerous it is to play with explosives should consider the tragic case of NHL Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who died this past weekend after being hit in the chest with fireworks at a 4th of July party in Novi, Michigan.

Lead photo by

Phil Marion

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