Additional murder charges laid in Danzig Street shooting
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:15AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 22, 2012 3:56PM EST
There are now two alleged gang members, one on each side of a long-standing rivalry, who are accused of pulling the triggers that led to two murders on Danzig Street more than four months ago.
Two counts of second-degree murder were filed against Nahom "Gifted" Tsegazab at the Scarborough courthouse today, Toronto police homicide Staff Insp. Greg McLane announced at an afternoon press conference.
The new charges are the latest in a growing list for several people in the Galloway Rd. and Malvern neighbourhoods as police continue to sift through mounting information about what happened that July night.
But Tsegazab's charges don't end with murder. He was also to be charged with one count of attempted murder and 22 counts of aggravated assault, McLane said.
Investigators are not necessarily alleging that Tsegazab shot 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay at the July 16 party on Danzig St. Rather, the new charges allege that Tsegazab’s actions contributed to their deaths.
"This investigation is far from over. With continued help from the community, I am confident my investigators will make further arrests," McLane said. "We have reason to believe based on our investigation that there are a minimum of one or two more shooters involved in this incident."
Police said at a previous press conference that they believed as many as six people exchanged gunfire during the incident, which investigators say was sparked by a feud between the Galloway Boys and Malvern Crew street gangs.
"That was some time ago and we've since had an opportunity to conduct further investigations," McLane said, adding police now believe there were "at minimum four" shooters involved.
Twenty-five people, including Tsegazab, were hit by bullets that night. Charles and Yasay did not survive.
Earlier this month, police released composite sketches of two so-called people of interest in the investigation. McLane announced today that one of those persons of interest is believed to go by the street name "Juvi." The other person of interest was identified and questioned. Police are still appealing for information on "Juvi."
Tsegazab was the first to be arrested in the case, but not on allegations of murder. The 19-year-old man was still nursing his own wounds when police charged him with reckless discharge of a firearm. According to a police source, investigators believe Tsegazab took ownership of the party as a member of the Galloway Boys. Police believe that around the time he was shot, he pulled out his own gun and began firing it off again and again, recklessly.
This explains why Tsegazab is charged with second-degree murder, rather than the more serious charge of first-degree murder, the latter of which would suggest a level of premeditation.
First-degree murder is what alleged Malvern Crew member Shaquan Mesquito, 18, faces in relation to the deaths.
Mesquito was first arrested in late July. At the time, police alleged he threatened to shoot up the Danzig St. party after being kicked out. They believe he was kicked out because he was from Malvern.
Earlier this month, police alleged Mesquito made good on those threats when they slapped him with a long list of new charges -- among them, 25 counts of aggravated assault, two counts of first-degree murder and, significantly, the attempted murder of Tsegazab. The attempted murder charge points to a possible motive in terms of what police believe sparked the carnage.
While both men are charged in connection with every person that was hit by a bullet that night, police do not believe they shot every one of the victims. Rather, investigators allege their actions led to the carnage that was carried out by several people.
Although Tsegazab is also charged with attempted murder, he is not accused of trying to kill Mesquito. According to a source, police believe Tsegazab tried to kill a 17-year-old boy.
That same 17-year-old boy, who was shot in the leg at the Danzig St. shootout, was again shot in the leg on Chester Le Blvd., on Sept. 2. Police alleged he was shot on Chester Le Blvd. by a 16-year-old boy who is related to one of the Danzig victims. Investigators believe the Chester Le shooting was retribution for what happened on Danzig. They also believe the 17-year-old boy was a target of murder on Sept. 2, but he escaped with only a gunshot wound to his leg because the assailant's gun jammed after the first shot.
As a result of the Sept. 2 shooting, a search warrant was carried out on Chester Le Blvd., leading to cocaine trafficking charges for the 17-year-old victim.
Investigators have said earlier they found more than 25 fired shell casings at the scene of the crime and recovered five firearms, which were submitted for forensic testing.
Asked to comment on the gang element of the shooting, McLane said, "What it tells me technically is that you have some individuals that are associated to two different street gangs that became involved in a dispute and in an effort to save face, return to the community to retaliate for being embarrassed or for some other reason that I'm not aware of at this point."
McLane again appealed to witnesses to step forward.
"It's clear to me and my investigators that there are people out there that have information that have not yet come forward. It's crucial for our investigation to have them come forward and assist us to connecting some of the dots on what transpired," McLane said. "It's important that the citizens of Toronto understand that we the police are in a position to receive their information and that we will take their safety into consideration."
Anyone with information was urged to call Det. Sgt. Peter Trimble at 416-808-7394 or Det. Sgt. Graham Gibson at 416-808-7405. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers.