Brothers charged in violent crime spree that left north Ajax community 'living in fear'
Published Friday, December 1, 2017 10:29AM EST Last Updated Friday, December 1, 2017 6:50PM EST
A pair of brothers are facing a total of 66 charges in connection with what police are calling a violent “crime spree” where numerous people were ambushed, robbed and carjacked in north Ajax.
Since Oct. 12, Durham Regional Police say they’ve received seven reports from drivers who claim they were ambushed by two suspects and either forced out of their vehicle or instructed to drive to a bank and hand over their own money at gunpoint.
In one case, a 17-year-old girl told police she was ambushed outside her home near Westney and Rossland roads by two armed suspects who forced her to drive them to a bank machine where they withdrew money using her bank card.
In another, a man was attacked while getting into his car outside his home also near Rossland Road. When he refused to comply with the assailants demands, police say he was struck with a hand gun and punched repeatedly in the head before the suspects decided to take off empty handed.
Police say they’re also connecting these incidents to a cellphone theft at the Ajax Go Train station that happened in September.
Det. Sgt. Ryan Connelly said the apparent randomness of the incidents left the northern Ajax community “living in fear.”
“It's just really scary, like we just live two minutes from here and I was just talking to my husband last night and I said, be very careful,” one area resident told CTV News Toronto on Nov. 17.
Despite a “complicated investigation,” Connelly said investigators were able to successfully identify two suspects after a robbery at the Ajax GO station committed on Sept. 13.
“The victim and suspect in that robbery met via an online app called LetGo, where you can buy and sell property. In that specific incident, the female victim was robbed of several hundred dollars,” Connelly said.
“We were able at that point to obtain a fingerprint during that incident and we were also able to obtain surveillance images of the suspect.”
Along with information obtained from the app, Connelly said investigators were able to pinpoint the suspects to an area in north Ajax where officers then “concentrated their surveillance efforts.”
Two suspects were arrested on Tuesday after a 55-year-old Saverian Aruseelan was robbed of his cellphone and $100 near the Ajax Downs Casino on Alexander’s Crossing while he sat in his taxi.
Aruseelan said a man approached the driver side of his cab pointing a gun and said “give me all your money, otherwise I blow out your head.”
Connelly said it was ultimately a set of fingerprints that tied the ongoing “crime spree” together.
“We were definitely surprised,” Connelly said of the crimes. “Myself and several other detectives talked this morning and we said we hadn’t seen a crime spree like this in Ajax ever before, especially with the degree of violence that was used, which was quote shocking to be honest.”
He said several of the victims sustained injuries during the events, one of whom suffered serious injuries.
The investigation required assistance from nine different specialized police units, Connelly added, each of which provided detectives with varying “expertise and techniques.”
“It’s obviously been a very trying time over the past couple of months,” Durham Police Chief Paul Martin said. “Truly the citizens of north Ajax especially were living in fear over the incidents that took place…We received great support from many citizens within our community.”
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish echoed Martin’s sentiments, noting that the “fairly restricted geographical area” where the crimes took place left a specific community on edge.
“Ajax is a very safe municipality,” he said. “You can be assured that there’s a community that’s feeling much better and much safer and much more secure thanks to the work of the police service.”
Suspects identified as 24-year-old Trenell Ottley and 21-year-old Trevell Ottley facing charges in connection with three carjacking-style incidents and four robberies where victims were targeted in their cars. One of the two suspects has been charged in connection with the Ajax GO Station robbery, as well.
The charges include four counts of kidnapping each, four counts of theft of a motor vehicle each and seven counts of possession of a dangerous weapon each.
Near the end of the news conference, Const. George Tudos noted that there is still a lot of information police are unable to make public while the multiple cases are before the courts.
“There’s a lot more to it so we’re hoping that the court case will shed some more light,” he said. “It may lead to other investigations… Like I said, there’s a lot of work we still have to do.”