Murder charges laid in Toronto BBQ mass shooting
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 7:54AM EST Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2012 4:05PM EST
Toronto police have laid murder charges in connection with the deadly mass shooting that took place at a BBQ party on Danzig Street in Toronto this past summer.
Shaquan Mesquito, 18, was arrested Wednesday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.
He is expected to appear in court on Dec. 12.
Two people - 14-year-old Shyanne Charles of Toronto and Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax - were shot and killed on July 16 when gunfire broke out at the community party in the city’s east end, which left 23 others injured.
While previous charges have been laid in the shooting, which police described as the worst act of gun violence in Toronto’s history, this is the first murder charge in the investigation.
During a press conference Thursday morning, homicide Staff Insp. Greg McLane said the Danzig investigation is far from over and more charges are expected to be laid.
Witnesses yet to come forward
“There are a number of individuals that were in attendance at the barbeque that have yet to come forward,” McLane told reporters.
Mesquito was previously charged with uttering threats on the day of the Danzig shooting. Police said Mesquito is from the Malvern area in Scarborough and is known by the street name “Bam Bam.”
He is charged with the attempted murder of Nahom Tsegazab, who police allege is a member of a rival gang.
Days following the shooting, Tsegazab, 19, was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm in connection with the Danzig investigation.
Police allege that Tsegazab is a Galloway Boys member known by the nickname “Gifted”. Police say he was promoting the party via Twitter.
Police have connected the shooting to the Galloway Boys, who McLane said “took ownership” of the community party.
Police said the shooting began when members of a rival gang from the nearby Malvern area showed up at the party.
There has been a long-standing feud between the Galloway Boys and another gang based in Malvern.
Thursday, police released the photos of two individuals who may have played a role in the shootings.
“It is unclear at this point if they were involved in the actual shooting or witnessed what took place that evening,” said McLane.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help to identify those who were checking party-goers for guns prior to being allowed access to the barbecue and those who were responsible for initially turning away the Malvern crew member.
Investigators say that that person later returned to the party with several other members of the Malvern crew.
More charges expected to be laid
“This investigation is far from over,” said McLane. “With the continued help of the community and the information that we’ve already cultivated I have great confidence that my investigators will identify the others involved in the shooting so they can be held accountable for their violent actions that day.”
McLane said he is “confident” that police will lay further murder charges as the investigation continues.
“I’m not saying that (Mesquito) is solely responsible for all the carnage that day.”
The summertime shooting was described by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair as the worst public shooting in the city’s history.
Blair said Thursday that police have been “relentless” in their investigation.
After the first shots were fired, as many as five different guns were discharged, said police.
Police allege that members of the Galloway Boys confronted people they did not recognize and demanded those from Malvern leave the party immediately.
The group from Malvern returned a short time later with larger numbers, police allege, and gunfire broke out in the centre of the party.
Investigators found more than 25 fired shell casings at the scene and have recovered five firearms.
With files from CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry