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"UQ" 2005 Obituary


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UQQ o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-08-09 published
Shootings claim two more lives
'Gun crime is not the Toronto that any Torontonian expects'
By Betsy POWELL with files from Vanessa L: UQQ, Crime Reporter
The group of Friends had just left the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Sherbourne St. in downtown Toronto after enjoying its weekly reggae music and hip hop night.
They were heading to a car parked on a nearby street just before 4 a.m. yesterday, when a man came up to them and fired several shots. Two men died and another was hurt.
Police don't believe the gunman knew the victims. What they do know is that guns have been used in more slayings this year than in all of 2004.
Ali Mohamud ALI, 19, died instantly in the shooting early Monday near Homewood Ave. and Maitland Pl. A 20-year-old man was also hit.
Friends tried to drive Loyan Mohammed AHMED, 23, to a nearby hospital. A few blocks away, near Bloor and Jarvis Sts., they waved to police for help. An ambulance came but paramedics weren't able to save him.
Twenty-three people have been shot in Toronto in the past two weeks, including a 4-year-old boy.
"It's a very serious concern," Mayor David MILLER told a news conference yesterday at police headquarters that was also attended by police Chief Bill Blair and members of the police services board.
"Gun crime is not the Toronto that any Torontonian expects," the mayor said.
"We do not expect to have shooting incidents of the kind that happened last night behind a popular nightclub to happen in this city."
Police don't know if the gunman was in the nightclub and they don't know what motivated the shooter.
While police believe many recent shootings in the city are "retaliatory" and are part of gang wars, there is nothing to suggest the deaths of ALI and AHMED were gang-related, said homicide Staff Insp. Jeff McGUIRE.
Seven men have been killed with guns since July 30. Just one arrest has been made.
"They are the most difficult to solve and they are the ones most often related back to gang-related violence," said McGUIRE.
Police have seized 2,470 firearms so far in 2005, said Blair. The majority of the handguns that were used in crime have been traced to the United States.
MILLER repeated his pledge to push the federal government for action on firearms smuggling, saying authorities have a difficult time catching gun runners. The mayor said he has even heard of snowbirds -- the Canadians who flock to sunnier climes in the winter -- bringing guns into this country illegally.
No weapon was recovered after early yesterday's shooting.
Yesterday there were three areas cordoned off by yellow police tape in the downtown core, one at Maitland Pl. and Homewood Ave., another at Jarvis and Bloor Sts., where a green Malibu straddled the southbound lanes of Jarvis with its two doors ajar.
Yellow tape was also in front of the Phoenix, though McGUIRE emphasized police don't believe anything happened there.
One resident of a highrise on Wellesley St. overlooking Homewood, got up shortly before 4 a.m. and looked out the window after hearing voices.
"I thought it was just hookers out there having another hooker fight," said the man, who asked that his name not be used.
He said he spotted what looked like two groups of men facing each other.
"Then there was four quick pops and then two pops and the noise sounded like a cap gun... and kaboom, one's down," he said, adding he didn't see who pulled the trigger or from which direction it came.
He called 911 and went on to his balcony and saw one man splayed over another lying on the ground, bleeding and with some clothing clumped to the side of his neck.
"He was screeching 'Call police, call an ambulance.' "
Yesterday, there was a pool of blood on the roadway, beside a white windbreaker-style jacket.
Another resident of the building, Bruce McCUBBIN, was sleeping in his apartment when his girlfriend awoke after hearing the sound of four or five gunshots. They got up and went to the balcony, which also faces south, and watched what happened next.
"One man was lying on the ground with another crouched over him holding what looked like a towel to his head and there was blood coming from him."
He saw another man leaning against a post who appeared to be hit in the arm. "It was difficult to see because it was so dark."
He heard someone yelling, "Call the cops, call the cops," and others panicking. "There was voices all over the place but... there was people screaming up the street."
McCUBBIN, an ex-police officer in Glasgow, contrasted the recent "crazy" period of gun violence in Toronto to what he saw back home.
"Glasgow is a violent city in a way but more stabbings, slashings, and people don't really carry guns because there's strict gun laws in Britain," he said. "But here, I've never seen anything like what I saw last night, even with two years on the police force, I didn't see anything as bad as I saw last night on the street. It was terrible."
Yesterday police officers combed the area and used a metal detector on the grass around a large Victorian brick home at the corner of Homewood and Maitland that was hit by a bullet.
The occupants declined to speak to reporters.
In the past five days, the Toronto Police Service has redeployed approximately 50 officers from throughout the service up into the northwest part of the city, which has had a number of shooting incidents, but also into Scarborough and downtown neighbourhoods plagued with gun violence, Blair told the news conference.
Both he and McGUIRE, however, said the city is not collapsing with gun or youth violence and blamed "a small few" for terrorizing neighbourhoods.
Back near Homewood Ave., a woman who identified herself as Lisa, and didn't want her last name used, was walking with her two children past the police tape on Wellesley St. She said she is sickened by the violence but looks to understand what is driving it.
"Toronto is segregated and they are marginalized, not part of society. They're bad guys, suffering mental illness, who grew up in poverty and have little hope of finding jobs so they turn to the underworld and guns."

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