'We need witnesses': Police seek 3 suspects in fatal shooting at after-hours club in 2016
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2018 6:00AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 13, 2018 7:27PM EDT
Police are looking for three male suspects in connection to the murders of two men shot to death as they broke up a fight inside an after-hours club near Kensington Market on Canada Day in 2016.
Justin Andrew Bokma, 42, and LeFranc "Frank" Matthews, 41, were gunned down in the early morning hours of July 1, 2016 inside a second-floor after-hours club near College Street and Augusta Avenue.
Police previously said as many as 50 people were inside the establishment at the time and video surveillance footage appeared to show Matthews and Bokma, who worked at the club, attempting to break up a fight when they were shot.
Bokma, who friends say was a former professional skateboarder, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Matthews, a father of two who studied chemical engineering at the University of Toronto, died a short time later in hospital.
Two others, a 45-year-old man and a 34-year-old man, suffered non-life-threatening injuries following the incident and made their own way to hospital for treatment.
“We believe that they were there to sell drugs and they continue to attend after-hours clubs within the City of Toronto,” Det. Steve Henkel said of the suspects on Wednesday.
“We also believe that these individuals were known to some of the patrons as well as the ownership of the club.”
The first suspect is described as a black male in his late 20s, standing five-feet-nine inches tall with a thin build and hair in braids to his shoulders.
The second suspect is described as a short black male with a skinny build and a large head and crooked teeth. He has deformity to his right hand and arm making them smaller than his left hand and arm.
Henkel said this suspect goes by the street name of “Moe.”
The third suspect is described as a black male with a medium complexion, standing about five-feet-nine inches tall. He was clean shaven.
Henkel said three of the four men shot that night were employed by the after-hours club, which was known at the time as “Retox.”
Police say they believe the suspects had attended the club previously and the club’s owners knew who they were.
An up to $50,000 reward was authorized Wednesday for information that leads to arrests.
Henkel said no more than 10 witnesses have come forward to speak to investigators or contribute the investigation in any way.
“It’s an underground location, whether people don’t want to be identified – everything about the establishment is illegal essentially.”
Henkel said the illicit nature of the establishment may be keeping witnesses from coming forward.
“If you really are fearful and choose to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers or use one of the social media apps, so that you can remain anonymous. But I’d like to speak to people directly, we need witnesses,” Henkel said.
Julia Matthews, LaFranc’s brother, said his loss feels like it occurred only yesterday.
“He was a father of two, he was a son and an uncle,” Julia said of her brother. “All he wanted to do was help people. He was always breaking up a fight.”
“These animals just took him away as well as Justin.”
Bokma’s father, Andy, said the prospect of catching those responsible raises the possibility of even more anguish.
“I’m afraid to say it will probably start a lot more hate inside of me because I will actually be able to put a face to who decided they were going to take my son’s life. I am not looking forward to it but it has to be done.”