Two men gunned down in Entertainment District were members of Toronto music scene
Published Sunday, July 1, 2018 7:33AM EDT Last Updated Monday, July 2, 2018 12:02PM EDT
Two men fatally gunned down in a brazen shooting on a busy stretch of Queen Street West Saturday have been identified as members of Toronto’s rap community.
Gunshots rang out shortly before 8 p.m. outside Cube Nightclub, near Queen Street West and Peter Street in the city’s Entertainment District.
Graphic photos posted on social media following the shooting showed a man lying on a sidewalk in a pool of blood.
Speaking to reporters Sunday, Det. Jeff Allington said two males and one female were outside on the street when they were struck by bullets.
They were all rushed to a local trauma centre for treatment.
On Saturday night, investigators said that one of the male victims died in hospital and on Sunday morning, Allington confirmed that a second man had died following the shooting.
The 37-year-old woman injured in the shooting is expected to survive.
The two men, both from Toronto, were formally identified by police Sunday as 21-year-old Jahvante Smart and 28-year-old Ernest Modekwe.
According to family and friends, Smart was a rising rapper who went by the stage name “Smoke Dawg,” while Modekwe was a music brand manager who was also known as “Kosi.”
A statement released by Smart’s family and management said he leaves behind a one-year-old daughter, as well as his parents, 13 siblings, friends and fans.
“Jahvante touched the lives of many fans not only in Toronto but around the world,” the statement reads. “Music was able to let him travel the world and chase his dream of becoming a super star.”
His family also said he had grown into a responsible young man who took care of those close to him.
“As a young man from Regent Park, he overcame poverty and grew into a responsible caring grown man who took care of his friends and family. He helped people wherever he could and will be remembered for his huge smile and glowing personality.”
Smart released a new video just days ago. In an Instagram post late Saturday, Toronto rap star Drake posted a picture of the two together and wrote: “All these gifts and blessed souls and inner lights being extinguished lately is devastating. I wish peace would wash over our city. So much talent and so many stories we never get to see play out. Rest up, Smoke.”
Meanwhile, friends of Modekwe took to social media to remember him as a University of Toronto graduate who was humble, kind and generous, with a vibrant personality.
A vigil is set to take place tonight for Modekwe, while one is being planned for Monday for Smart.
Police appealing for witnesses
Allington said that police are searching for more than one suspect but could not confirm the exact number of people who are believed to be responsible for the deadly shooting.
Police previously said that the perpetrators may have fled the scene in a black SUV or a white car but no suspect descriptions have been released.
Allington urged anyone with information or video footage to come forward.
“There were numerous people in the area at the time of this shooting and I’m asking that any of them that have any information on this or witnessed this shooting contact police,” Allington said.
“There were a number of cars that left the area shortly after the shooting and I’m asking all of the drivers of those cars and the people that were in them to come forward.”
On Sunday morning, police tape and forensic investigators were spotted collecting evidence at the busy downtown intersection.
A section of Queen Street West was closed east of Spadina Avenue for the police investigation but the area has now reopened.
Mayor 'angry' about gun violence in Toronto
Saturday's fatal shooting brings the total number of homicides in Toronto to 50 and speaking at a Canada Day event in Toronto on Sunday, Mayor John Tory said he is “damn mad” about the recent gun violence.
“I’ve talked to Chief Saunders this morning and I know they are hard at work on this one and some of the other shootings that we’ve experienced this year. We are going to round these people up…we are going to put them in jail and then the real question is will the system keep them in jail until their charges are dealt with,” Tory said.
“We just can’t have these people on the street. They are causing mayhem in an otherwise very peaceful city.”