On Family Day in Toronto too many parents are mourning their lost children. This year in Toronto there have been eight homicides. Of those homicides eight of the victims have been teenagers.
In the last week Toronto Police have added two more names to the list of 2013 homicides in the city. Those names were both children. Jarvis Montaque, 15 and Naveed Shahnawaz, 19 are the latest to be killed in a city that has already mourned 15-year-old Tyson Bailey and 15-year-old St. Aubyn Rodney.
The four were all young men, at least three were athletes and all four were black. The three youngest all lived in neighbourhoods known for violence.
Both Rodney and Bailey were or had been members of their local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Tyson Bailey's life ended in a stairwell at 605 Whiteside Place on January 18. He was the second homicide of the year. The young man had gone to the apartment building to play video games with a friend. He had been home that morning from school because he didn't feel well. After spending time with his mother he asked to go to his friend's home. It would be mere minutes before at least two bullets ripped through his young body.
Bailey was a star on the football field. Known for his smile and joking manner the teen was on the right path. At Central Tech he was remembered for wanting a better life. He may have had a tough edge, he was a kid that lived in ganglands but he appears to have stayed out of the life.
His killer(s) are still walking free. There are no suspects named in his death.
Naveed Shahnawaz, 19, was outside of a nightclub at Exhibition Place when he and another were shot during a fight in the parking lot. According to Toronto Police the shooter fired into the crowd. It is likely that the teen didn't know the person who pulled the trigger. Shahnawaz died almost a week later on February 15 after five days in ICU. Unlike the younger 3 victims Shahnawaz didn't die in his own neighbourhood. He was likely expecting to go home to Brampton after a having a fun night out enjoying the Toronto club scene.
Shahnawaz was a fighter training at the Bramlea Boxing Club in Brampton. He trained three days a week and was said to have looked like an open class fighter. What had held him back was his gentle nature. He walked away from trouble according to his friends.
Tony Hoang Dinh, 18, of Toronto has been charged with several counts including two counts of attempted murder with a firearm.
On Monday February 11 St. Aubyn Rodney was at his 4 Turf Grassway home with friends. At some point a gun appeared and the 15-year-old was shot in the stomach.
It appeared that as a young boy Rodney was on the right track. He played basketball for the Youth Association for Academics, Athletics and Character Education team until Grade 7. Even when he couldn't play because his grades weren't up to par he cheered his team on from the bench. The teen went to the local Girls and Boys Club but was known for not making it to school often.
Rodney lived in the Jane and Finch area, a part of town known for gang and gun violence.
A 17-year-old boy was charged with Manslaughter for Rodney's death. The boy is said to have been a friend since primary school of the victim. He can not be named under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Police are asking witnesses to the shooting to come forward.
Last night Jarvis Montaque, 15, was with a group of people standing outside on the sidewalk on Jamestown Crescent. A man walked up and shot the young teen at close range before fleeing the area.
The teen lived on Jamestown Crescent in the Rexdale area. He split his time between his family's homes in Rexdale, during the school year, and Jamaica, during the summer, according to Toronto Police. Montaque didn't have a large number of friends. He hung out with his extended family while in Toronto.
His killer remains at large.
Three of the four lived in areas known for gun violence. They are also known for silence. That silence allows for children to die. The killers know that no one will talk. Witnesses fear that the next bullet will be aimed at their head if they are seen talking to the police. They know that their guns have become more powerful, that fear has won out over justice.
That fear can not be erased though until those who kill, who rule the hood, who target the innocent are put behind bars. No one wants a witness to die for doing the right thing. Crime Stoppers is an important tool in these cases. No one will know who fingered the people responsible for killing these children but the police will have the information to get them off of the street. The dead deserve that, so do their families.