'He had a beautiful soul,' family says of student fatally shot outside North York apartment building
TORONTO -- A 20-year-old student who was fatally shot outside his North York apartment building last week was well-respected in the community, Toronto police say.
On Jan. 31, shortly before 9 p.m., Hashim Omar Hashi drove back home after having dinner with some friends.
As he was in his vehicle trying to swipe his key fob to enter the garage, a suspect vehicle quickly approached behind him, police said.
“A lone suspect exited the front passenger side of that vehicle and ran up to Mr. Hashi’s passenger side vehicle and fired multiple gunshots,” Det. Sgt. Ted Lioumanis said during a news conference Saturday morning.
When officers arrived on scene, they located Hashi suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
He was pronounced deceased at the scene, Lioumanis said.
It is not believed that Hashi was involved in any criminal activity, Lioumanis said.
“Mr. Hashi was not involved in any gang activity nor was he involved in any gang affiliation. Mr. Hashi was a student studying accounting and worked part-time at the airport. He had a promising future and he was a very well-respected young man,” he said.
Lioumanis also said police are investigating if the suspects mistook Hashi’s identity for someone else.
“To this point, there is nothing to suggest that he was targeted for who Mr. Hashi was. I cannot say if he was targeted because he lived in the neighbourhood and that’s part of our investigation right now,” he said.
Police said the suspect ran back into the vehicle, which was last seen heading east on Falstaff Avenue. It is believed the vehicle travelled on Highway 401 shortly after the shooting, Lioumanis said.
The suspect vehicle was found about four hours after the shooting burning in Earl Bales Park, about 10 kilometres away from the scene, police said.
Investigators said they are looking for at least two suspects, the shooter and the driver, and possibly two other suspects involved in the incident.
On Saturday, police released surveillance footage from the apartment building that shows one suspect exiting the vehicle and then running back into the car after the shooting.
Lioumanis said the suspect vehicle was a black Honda Civic that was stolen outside the Greater Toronto Area.
Imam and Youth Councillor at Hashi’s mosque Ahmed Urur spoke on behalf of Hahshi’s family at the news conference and said Hashi had a “beautiful soul” and was always smiling.
“In a short time here, he touched many people’s lives. He lived his life simply and loved fully and this is why his death has hit a lot of our community members. Hashim was a wonderful person and may Allah have mercy on his soul,” he said.
Urur said Hashi was a Humber College student who was pursuing a career as an accountant. He described the student as hardworking, kind and humble.
“Everyone that knew him or met him, including myself, could attest to this. He was a caring friend, a thoughtful neighbour and an even more loving son and brother,” Urur said.
Gun violence is not an uncommon occurrence in the North York community. Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner said police are continuing to implement more measures to address safety concerns in the neighbourhood.
“The gun violence has plagued this particular community, the buildings here on Falstaff, and we and the police have taken measures to increase our controls, to have ongoing dialogue with our housing partners, [and] feedback from the community,” he said during the news conference.
York South-Weston councillor Frances Nunziata said there have been ongoing meetings with tenants of the apartment building and community members about their concerns.
She said security cameras have been placed on each floor of the building and in the parking lots, but that more needs to be done to increase safety measures.
“We’ve had members of the community come forward with a petition asking for more security and more police resources in this area. The gun violence that we have in this city is sickening, another life has been lost. We need to work together with the community and the police to try and stop the gun violence that we have in this community,” she said at the news conference.
Police are asking anyone with information or video of the incident or suspect vehicle to contact them.