Police fear relative of shooting victim seeking retribution
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:55AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:46PM EDT
Police investigating the deadly Danzig Street shooting are focusing on potential acts of vengeance by someone who may be related to 14-year-old victim Shyanne Charles.
Soon after the shooting, Twitter was flooded with posts referencing someone called Ledda in connection with Charles, and warning Ledda would be seeking out those responsible for Monday’s violence.
“Do you guyszz know who ledda is??? This guy is gonna hunt,” tweeted one user.
“If Shyanne drops, ledda is ending all of Scarborough,” warned another.
Police say Monday’s violence erupted when a man who may be a member of the Galloway Boys gang was shot and then returned fire, spraying the crowd with bullets.
The gunfire killed Charles and 23-year-old Ajax resident Joshua Yasay, who had a degree in criminology from York University and wanted to become a police officer. Twenty-five others were injured.
Police are certain that residents of the Kingston-Galloway area know who the shooters are and have urged witnesses to come forward with information.
But many residents are reluctant to speak about the incident, as they fear that talking to police may put them in danger.
"Doing what's right is foremost in I would think most people's minds, but after you do what's right and you guys go home and the media's off, what does doing right get the rest of us?" said one resident who declined to giver her name.
Another resident told CTV Toronto that nobody was going to share what they knew.
“I think that black people think to a large extent that they are left to kill themselves. Nobody cares, really, it's a seven-day wonder, maybe. People are not going to talk," said another resident.
Police fear that if no one comes forward, the violence will only escalate.
Community leaders speak up
In the wake of the shooting, community leaders and program directors who work in some of Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods are calling for a co-ordinated effort to help fight gang violence.
Community leaders and workers say it will take more than just an increased police presence to stem the violence in some of Toronto’s “priority” neighbourhoods.
Speaking near the site of the shooting, Sen. Don Meredith said community members must be proactive and take a stand against the violence.
“They need to not allow gangbangers to come in and shoot up their neighbourhoods and let them live in fear,” Meredith told CTV Toronto.
Meredith said he was encouraged to hear that some of the residents of the Kingston-Galloway community had contacted police with information regarding Monday’s shooting, and urged more witnesses to follow suit.
“The police still need some hard evidence in order to get these criminals off the street,” he said.
Meredith said it’s not too late to reverse the wave of violence that seems to have taken over parts of the city, but it will take the involvement of multiple parties to achieve it.
“Politicians need to be engaged, police need to be engaged, health practitioners need to be engaged in this problem,” he said.
The senator praised the recent rallies and marches condemning the violence and urged residents to keep it up.
“It’s not going happen over night,” he said. “It’s a continuous process.”
Lekan Olawoye, executive director of the For Youth Initiative, echoed the senator’s words.
Olawoye told CTV News Channel Wednesday that increasing police presence is just one part of a solution to a complicated set of problems.
Olawoye said communities that struggle with gang violence are often low-income neighbourhoods that lack adequate resources and support that might help turn youth away from criminal behaviour.
These neighbourhoods often face high rates of unemployment and a high number of single-parent families, he said.
“It doesn’t excuse it. It doesn’t excuse that it happened, but we need to understand that it’s not an isolated incident,” he said.
“It’s not an incident that’s just thugs that are shooting each other, but these individuals have been in a system and a structure that hasn’t been working for them and their families and for most people in these communities. That’s where we need to start tackling.”
Olawoye said that while he welcomes the mayor’s strong words against the perpetrators, he’d like to see different groups stepping up to help fight the violence.
“We cannot say that these communities simply need police and that’s it,” he said.
Officials want action
Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Ford spoke out strongly against those responsible for the shooting, saying he wants thugs and violent criminals “out of the city.”
Ford said he will be attending a meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty and Police Chief Bill Blair on Monday.
During the meeting he will ask the provincial government for more funding for police, he said.
Ford also said he want increased sentences for those who are found in possession of a handgun.
Ford said he wants tougher sentences because guns are killing too many in the city.
“It’s affecting our city more than any other city in Canada,” said Ford.
Also on Wednesday, the province’s attorney general called for a ban on handguns.
Community continues to mourn
Meanwhile, friends and family continue to mourn the victims of Monday’s gunfire that erupted at the neighbourhood block party on Danzig Street, near Morningside Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East.
Hundreds of community members joined faith leaders and politicians a short distance from the crime scene Tuesday night, calling for an end to gun violence.
Tyrone Charles, the grandfather of the 14-year-old victim, broke into tears as he begged for change, pleading for his granddaughter’s death to prompt an uprising against violence in the community.
“I don't want my granddaughter’s death to go in vain. I’d like the community to come together and solve this crime. No more hiding, no more secrecy. What you know, let it come forward so my granddaughter's death won't have to be in vain," Charles said at the Tuesday evening vigil.
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair has called the shooting “unprecedented for the city of Toronto,” and issued an appeal to the residents to turn any information – including photos and video – over to investigators.
“We’re asking for the public’s help, to enable us to gather the information and evidence necessary to quickly identify, apprehend and incarcerate the individuals responsible,” Blair told CTV Toronto on Tuesday.
“Their behaviour, their demonstrated behaviour, is so dangerous that society needs to be protected from them.”
The hundreds who gathered at a Kingston-Galloway highrise where Charles lived, remembered the girl as a fun-loving teen, avid basketball player and good student.
She participated in a number of basketball and dance programs at the Scarborough Boys and Girls club.
Yasay was a graduate of York University who had plans of becoming a police officer. He also volunteered as a basketball coach with troubled youth.
Toronto police are asking witnesses and people who attended the party to call them with information at 416-808-4300. Photos and video taken at the scene can also be turned into police on their website www.torontopolice.on.ca.
With files from CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry, Zuraidah Alman and Staff Writer Matthew Coutts