IBRAHIM email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-01-03 published
son may have been target
Police make arrest in woman's death
By Raveena AULAKH and Timothy APPLEBY, Page A8
Toronto -- Jean SPRINGER may have been shot down when she tried to protect her youngest son from a friend who showed up at her front door with a gun, according to a Toronto police source.
Ms. SPRINGER, 60, was killed on New Year's Day by a single bullet that struck her in the face. She was pronounced dead at Sunnybrook hospital, becoming the city's first homicide victim of 2007.
Heavily armed officers arrested 26-year-old Altaf IBRAHIM 12 hours later in his basement apartment in Scarborough, a few minutes drive from the SPRINGER home. He is charged with first-degree murder, a charge that implies the killing was planned.
A police source said last night that the gunman may have been looking for Ms. SPRINGER's youngest son Antoine, also 26, when he arrived at the SPRINGER home in the Malvern neighbourhood about 2: 30 p.m.
"It looks like there was some kind of dispute between the two young men and Ms. SPRINGER got between and got shot," a police source said.
The accused is said to have known Ms. SPRINGER's youngest son, who along with an older brother was in his mother's Snowball Crescent home Monday as she prepared New Year's Day dinner.
"They grew up together, at least from their teen years," said Detective Gary GRINTON of the Toronto homicide squad.
Mr. IBRAHIM lives alone in an apartment on Brimorton Drive. He was arrested about 2 a.m. yesterday without a struggle. Clad in orange prison garb, he appeared briefly in court in Scarborough yesterday and was remanded in custody. Police were still seeking the handgun allegedly used to kill Ms. SPRINGER, known locally as "Auntie Jeannie."
"You have what I believe was a truly innocent woman just going about her business," Det. GRINTON said of Ms. SPRINGER, widely described as an exemplary citizen, devoted parent and regular worshipper at the Malvern Methodist Church. "It's shocking."
Neither Mr. IBRAHIM nor any members of the SPRINGER family have criminal records. And if there was any animosity before Monday's shooting, it had not been manifest in the shape of threats or any physical altercations, Det. GRINTON said.
Nor were any gang affiliations involved, he said. "None whatsoever."
He dismissed a news report that said the gunman yelled "Happy New Year," as he opened fire, but agreed that because Ms. SPRINGER let him into her home, she likely perceived no threat.
Beyond stating that postshooting 911 calls were received from several neighbours, as well as from within the SPRINGER home, detectives would not say what led them to charge Mr. IBRAHIM so quickly.
Yesterday, at the three-unit house where Mr. IBRAHIM has lived since last summer, few neighbours seemed to know much about the basement apartment's tall, solitary occupant, who would sometimes step outside for a cigarette but mostly kept to himself.
"He moved in when the new owner bought the house," said George BOORNE, who lives across the street and saw the 2 a.m. arrest. "But I never saw him around."
At the SPRINGER home yesterday, Friends and neighbours voiced shock and sorrow at the brutal death of a woman described as a popular pillar of the community who often helped organize local events.
"I met her on New Year's Eve at the home of one of our sisters, we had a good time," said Norma McKENZIE, who had known Ms. SPRINGER at the Malvern Methodist Church for 10 years.
Ms. McKENZIE described the family of four as God-fearing, close-knit, regular church-goers. "Antoine was part of my team at Ford company and we worked well together."
Other worshippers concurred in praising Ms. SPRINGER's devotion to family and church.
"She was closely involved with the church," said Sandra LECKY, church secretary. "We know where she is today -- there was no victory here."
Church staff brought in extra chairs yesterday evening as mourners packed in to pay their respects. Those in attendance hugged and consoled one another, occasionally rising in songs.
Reading from a statement prepared by Ms. SPRINGER's family -- most attended the service but did not want to speak to reporters youth pastor Marlon MITCHELL described her as "… quiet, charming, intelligent and very much understated in manner. She had style and flair, but all of it counted for nothing compared to how much she celebrated her relationship with God through Jesus Christ."
Ms. SPRINGER was born in 1946 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. As a student, she won a scholarship to a grammar school for girls and eventually earned a teacher's diploma. She arrived in Canada in the late 1960s, and initially continued teaching primary school. However, she soon switched jobs, becoming an accountant. Self-employed, she stayed in that line of work until her death.
But it was her religious faith that stood out above all else, Friends said yesterday. Indeed, it is that faith that now allows her family to bear no grudges against the man accused of stepping into her home and taking her life.
"Today we mourn her loss, but our faith calls on us to forgive others [as] God has in Christ forgiven us," Mr. MITCHELL read from the family's statement yesterday. "Jean had a forgiving spirit and we are sure that she would want us to forgive whoever has committed this senseless act."
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IBRAHIM firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.toronto_star 2007-01-02 published
Arrest in first 2007 homicide
Photos By Carlos OSORIO / Toronto Star
Police said Jean SPRINGER was shot in the face after answering the door at her home on Snowball Cres. near Neilson Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E. SPRINGER, who was in her 60s, was pronounced dead at hospital. The slaying is Toronto's first homicide of 2007.
Victim one of four hit by gunshots as 2007 gets off to a violent start in Toronto
By Isabel TEOTONIO, Joanna SMITH and Thulasi SRIKANTHAN, Staff Reporters
It is January 2, only two days into the New Year, and police are already busy investigating a string of shootings throughout the city that left one woman dead and three other people injured.
A man arrested in connection with Toronto's first homicide of 2007 appeared in a Scarborough courthouse this morning wearing an orange jumpsuit and looking dishevelled.
Altaf IBRAHIM, 26, made a brief court appearance after a lengthy delay. He is charged with first-degree murder. Also in the courtroom were three of his male relatives, but they refused to speak with reporters.
Toronto police arrested the man after the shooting death Monday of Jean SPRINGER, 60, in her Malvern home around 2: 30 p.m.
SPRINGER was shot in the face and killed when she opened the door of her home to a caller, believed to be a friend of her son's.
During the wee hours of this morning, another woman was shot, reportedly in the face, in an Etobicoke high-rise.
Emergency crews were called to the 20th floor of the building on Weston Rd. near Lawrence Ave. W. at about 1 a.m., where they found a woman, about 20 years old, suffering from gunshot wounds, police said.
Police would not comment on the extent of her injuries, but said the homicide squad has been called in to monitor the case. She is in hospital and fighting for her life.
Investigators do not have a suspect at this time and the victim's name is being withheld until her family has been notified, police said.
A couple of hours later, around 3: 20 a.m., two men were shot in the leg as doormen were in the process of kicking them out of a downtown Toronto nightclub.
Police are investigating if one of the victims was the shooter and if a doorman was the intended target.
One shooting victim is 19 and the other is around the same age.
Police were called to the Kool Haus, which is part of The Guvernment entertainment complex on Queens Quay E. at Lower Jarvis Street, after shots rang out near the entrance to the club, where a private event was being held.
The two men, who are Friends, were part of a larger group being ejected by security because of a fight that had broken out. Gunfire erupted just outside the Jarvis St. entrance.
One victim tried to flee in a taxi, but moments later it was stopped by police. The other was found at the scene.
Each was transported with non-life threatening injuries to hospital, where they are currently under police watch.
Charges have not been laid against the men.
Anyone with information is asked to call 416-222-8477.
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IBRAHIM email@example.com_county.toronto.toronto_star 2007-01-03 published
A knock, and then a shot
A quiet afternoon preparing to entertain shattered by a visitor on New Year's Day
By Dale Anne FREED, Staff Reporter with files from Thulasi SRIKANTHAN and Betsy POWELL
It was New Year's Day. And the fragrant smells of cow-heel soup, kingfish and chicken wafted through the house when Arden-Ray SPRINGER heard the knock at the front door.
"Answer the door, Jean," he called up from the basement. He thought guests were arriving early for a family party.
Instead, he heard a man's voice. "Is Anton here?"
"No, he's got his own place now," he heard his wife say.
"Is Anwele here?"
Jean called her son. It was the last time he heard her voice.
Then he heard a bang.
"That's a gunshot," he thought. "What's a gunshot doing in my house?"
Arden-Ray ran upstairs, just as a young man was leaving. He turned to the foyer and saw his wife lying near the kitchen, a gunshot wound to her temple.
"She's lying in a pool of blood. She never saw it coming, that's the saving grace. There was no frozen fear on her face."
Then the oldest son, Anwele-Ray, 32, came running down the stairs. He had recognized the voice at the door. It was a friend of his 28-year-old brother, his father said.
"I opened the door. There he was, he was pointing a gun at me. I pushed Anwele to the left and I fell to the right," he said.
"It was a handgun."
The man put his gun away as neighbours started to gather outside the house on Snowball Cres., near Markham Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E.
"Get a licence plate," the father yelled out as he ran to tend to his 60-year-old wife.
"She looked so peaceful like she was sleeping," he said. "The blood is so bright red.
"I'm screaming. I know she's dead," he said.
"Anton isn't there, so he shot Jean."
His son got a partial licence plate and so did the neighbours. But with all the support he got that terrible afternoon, Arden-Ray, 59, couldn't thank one homicide detective enough.
"Dan SHEPPARD did an excellent job. And he got massive cooperation from the community," said a grateful Springer.
"I'd like to reiterate there is no drug activity and no gangs involved in this killing," said Det. SHEPPARD.
At a news conference at police headquarters yesterday, homicide Det. Gary GRINTON said, "It's shocking when you have what I believe is a truly innocent woman who was… just going about her business, was not in an area that would be known for violence.
"She was in her home, that's where we're all supposed to be safe."
But he wouldn't comment on whether the accused was, in the parlance of police, an "emotionally disturbed person."
But a source said police are investigating whether the man had a history of mental illness.
Altaf IBRAHIM, 26, was arrested at his home near Scarborough Golf Club Rd. and Brimorton Doctor at 2 a.m. yesterday and charged with first-degree murder.
He lived alone in a house divided into apartments.
A dishevelled and bearded IBRAHIM appeared in a Scarborough courthouse yesterday, wearing an orange jumpsuit. Three of his male relatives watched anxiously from the back row as two police officers escorted IBRAHIM in handcuffs into the courtroom, which was packed with media.
His next court appearance is scheduled for next Tuesday.
Last night in his house, Arden-Ray SPRINGER was still trying to cope with his loss. Police had finally let him cross the yellow police tape to get some clothes before he went to a memorial service at the Malvern Methodist Church, the same church where Jean was an elder and a prayer co-ordinator.
At the memorial service, hundreds of teary-eyed mourners remembered Jean SPRINGER, who had taken part in the women's ministry and had regularly led prayer time.
"Today we mourn her loss, but our faith calls on us to forgive others and God has in Christ forgiven us," said Marlon MITCHELL, a youth pastor for the church.
Jean, who worked freelance in the accounting field, devoted her life to Malvern Methodist, a church her husband had even helped paint in his off-hours while his wife tended to church matters, said Arden-Ray, a management marketing consultant.
A funeral is expected to be held Saturday at Malvern Methodist Church.
They had been sweethearts since the mid-1960s when they were in their teens.
Both were from Trinidad. He met his future wife on a Caribbean cruise ship.
She'd just graduated from teacher's college. And SPRINGER's mother was a stewardess on the ship and his aunt knew Jean's family.
So they arranged for the two to meet.
SPRINGER became the unofficial tour guide for the group of prim young ladies on vacation.
"Jean and I connected. It was love before first sight. It was spiritual," he said.
After the two moved to Canada and got married more than three decades ago, she taught part-time at grade school and studied accounting at the University of Toronto.
She eventually moved into accounting, he said.
The holidays have all seemed to blur together for Arden-Ray. New Year's Day was his wife's turn to host more than 20 members of the family at the Scarborough home where they have lived for about 28 years.
The couple had spent Christmas and Boxing Day with her two sisters Willie and Carol. And New Year's was reserved for Jean. It was tradition.
Last night, as he looked back on that day, he wished he had never asked her to open that door -- but he bore no malice
"We're devastated, not angry. We do not want revenge, just justice," her husband said.
"She was known as Auntie Jean to everybody," he said.
"She was one of the most beautiful people in the world."
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IBRAHIM firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.toronto_star 2007-01-07 published
Hundreds mourn 2007's first homicide victim
Family members comfort each other after the funeral of Jean SPRINGER, killed when she opened her front door on New Year's Day. Vince TALOTTA / Toronto Star
By Thulasi SRIKANTHAN, Staff Reporter
In the cold spitting rain, hundreds of mourners gathered at a Scarborough church to pay their respects to Jean SPRINGER, Toronto's first homicide victim of 2007.
Row upon row was packed with teary-eyed mourners at Morningstar Christian Fellowship, who prayed and remembered the 60-year-old as a kind and loving mother of two.
"She was selfless," said her friend, Judy SUTHERLAND, as she stood in the cold after the service. "We will miss her but we will celebrate her life."
SPRINGER was shot to death shortly after she opened her door on New Year's Day.
Altaf IBRAHIM, 26, was arrested in connection with the shooting. He is believed to have been a friend of one of SPRINGER's sons.
At the church yesterday, family members hugged each other as they waited in the cold and rain, watching the casket being loaded into the hearse.
Many wiped away tears as they left the service where two photo collages were on display, filled with pictures of SPRINGER through the years, from her childhood days -- to dancing with her husband, Arden-Ray.
A friend, Judy INGRID, said SPRINGER lived her life in a way that inspired others to want to "model our life after her."
With her warmth, faith and her smile, Ingrid said SPRINGER drew many to her.
"From this turnout, you can see."
SPRINGER was born February 9, 1948 to Alva and Gwendolyn REID in the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. As a young girl, she shone academically.
Eventually, her academic aptitude led her to win a scholarship to Bishop Anstey High School.
In the years following, she went to Trinidad's Mausica Teachers' College where she graduated with a teacher's diploma.
After meeting and marrying her husband, she moved to Canada where she became a bookkeeper and accountant after teaching for a few years.
In Canada, she raised her two sons, Anton and Anwelle.
SPRINGER was also well known in her community as a woman with a strong Christian faith. She often led prayers and took part in the women's ministry at her local church.
"She was a very inspiring lady," said Sandra MILLER, another friend who had come to pay her respects.
A viewing for Friends and family was also held yesterday at Ogden Funeral Home.
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