McFRINN firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-06-11 published
Shots only came one way, police say
By Colin FREEZE, Page A1
Toronto -- Hope has a habit of dying in Jamestown.
Joan BAKER, a mother of three, heard about six staccato bursts echo up the road from her housing project on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. "Oh, maybe it's firecrackers," is what she recalls hoping.
Then she saw a shiny silver Mercedes sport utility vehicle speed around a bend on John Garland Boulevard, followed by what looked to be a blue Honda. Before long, she saw the Honda, stopped just around the corner, with all of its doors open and the passengers having fled, all except a young man who lay dying on the grass - the unarmed victim, police say, of a drive-by attack.
Paramedics arrived and put a tarp over the man. It was at that point that Ms. BAKER held out another hope, that maybe the victim was not one of her neighbours. "Oh jeez, that person is dead," she recalled thinking, while looking at the body. "You want to bet they're going to blame it on Jamestown?"
But then she saw a distraught mother of four from across the walkway. "She was just begging for someone to tell her, 'no it was not him,' Ms. BAKER recalled. She told her neighbour she had gotten a glimpse of the victim, and that it was a young white man, wearing a white do-rag and white sneakers.
The other woman burst out in hysterical crying. Hope that her teenaged son was alive had just evaporated. It was his body that was lying under that tarp; he had gotten to within a few metres of his home after fleeing an attack.
Toronto Police yesterday identified Jose Hierro SAEZ, 19, as Toronto's latest homicide victim. The shooting seriously injured three of his Friends - Paddy McFRINN, 18, Moustaffa OMAR, 20, Matthew DALE, 18.
Homicide detectives said the victims were too "groggy" to say much about the shooters, leaving police few leads yesterday. "We have some possibilities, but even those are perhaps a stretch," Detective Sergeant Gary GRINTON said yesterday.
The detective said that most of the shooting victims held down jobs and that he has no information to indicate they are gang members. Most lived in the neighbourhood.
The shooting has been reported as a "gun battle," but detectives said yesterday that it was one-sided. "It wasn't a battle, that's the best information we have right now," Det. GRINTON said. Police believe the shots were fired from the silver Mercedes sport utility vehicle, just east of the housing project near Kipling Avenue, before the two cars got to the housing project.
"It's tremendously frustrating when these things happen because we work hard in these neighbourhoods and we work hard in Jamestown," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said at a news conference to announce the infusion of $5-million from the province to combat crime in the downtown nightclub district. "It's tremendously frustrating when a few, frankly, idiots go out and engage in such wanton violence."
He held out hope that people wouldn't lose faith in police efforts to curb the violence. During 2005, more than 10 fatal shootings occurred in the Jamestown housing complex. Since last year, after Chief Blair announced that his force had "surgically removed" the leadership of the Jamestown Crew while arresting scores of alleged gangsters, homicides and shootings have been rare.
Still, the housing project has yet to blot out all the Crips gang graffiti on its walls, and its residents generally had little to say to reporters yesterday. "Yeah, that's what happened. That was my friend," said one young man, before walking off with a shrug. A few people laid wreaths at the crime scene, but wouldn't comment.
Twenty-four hours after the shooting, Joan BAKER sat outside watching her daughter do her homework, and warning another group of children playing soccer not to veer into the road where the cars had sped by the previous day. Many of her neighbours, she said, "think if you talk to the police or anybody, you're snitching."
Many people in the housing project mind their own business. Still, the BAKER family knew the shooting victim, not well, but they liked what they knew about him.
Every morning in the winter when Ms. BAKER walked her children out to the bus - she said she sends her children to schools farther away because of the "peer pressure" in local ones - they would see the young man warming up the car for his mother. He would say "Hi Mummy" and smile and sometimes tell jokes.
Ms. BAKER's daughter cried when she learned that their neighbour was dead. It was a grim reminder for the family of a homicide two years ago. In that incident, a man who had visited the BAKERs' house just before going a party up the street was shot in the leg when the other man was killed.
The family has been living in the project for seven years, and it's an uphill struggle at times. Still, "if I can survive Kingston 11," Ms. BAKER said, referring to her old neighbourhood in Jamaica, "I can survive Jamestown."
She hopes to move out of it one day, but "every time I think I can afford to leave, I just come back down to zero again."
M... Names Mc... Names McF... Names McFR... Names Welcome Home
MCFRINN - All Categories in OGSPI