AHMAD email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-05-20 published
Police discover third body in charred home
By Jill MAHONEY, Page A11
Investigators discovered a third body yesterday in the charred ruins of a Don Mills townhouse believed to be the scene of a double murder-suicide.
Two bodies had been found previously, after a suspicious fire engulfed the home Saturday evening. The three bodies are thought to be those of a woman, her husband and her mother.
"That's what we anticipate, and that would make it a double homicide-suicide," said Toronto police homicide Detective Doug SANSOM.
Around the time of the blaze, a three-year-old boy, who police believe was orphaned by the fire, was found unharmed by a neighbour after the man received a mysterious knock on his door. The boy was carrying a confession note.
"The note would indicate that there's some foul play," Det. SANSOM said, adding it appeared to be in a man's handwriting.
The note referred to a tape recorder in a nearby car that had only the sounds of people singing in English, Urdu and Hungarian. Police suspect the person who tried to make the recording was unaware the tape recorder did not work.
The boy has been in the care of the Children's Aid Society, but police believe he will be released to a paternal aunt who lives outside Toronto.
The second body, found Sunday, and the third body had not been removed from the townhouse late yesterday afternoon because of concerns about the structure's safety.
Police had responded to past complaints of domestic violence at the address on Green Belt Drive; the last incident was about three years ago, Det. SANSOM said. As well, emergency responders reported a strong smell of gasoline at the fire, which occurred in the Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue area.
Police said the victims are believed to be a 41-year-old man and two women, aged 46 and 70. Police won't officially release the names until the badly burned bodies are identified, likely through dental records or DNA. However, they have been identified by local media as Magid AHMAD, his wife, Ildiko SZAVA, and her mother, Karolyne GALLASZ.
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AHMAD firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-06-14 published
Double shooting shakes gun-weary Toronto
Two 25-year-old men killed downtown; carjacking suspected
By Timothy APPLEBY and Jamie KOMARNICKI with reports from Sarah BOESVELD and Matthew CAMPBELL, Page A1
Toronto -- It was just after midnight yesterday when Alan DUDECK's cellphone rang, bearing the worst tidings a parent could hear: His son, Oliver MARTIN, and his son's lifelong friend Dylan ELLIS had just been shot.
The two young men had been heading home from a friend's apartment after watching a basketball game, and the frantic call came from a close friend of Mr. MARTIN.
"He said, 'Get down to St. Mike's [hospital] right away,' Mr. DUDECK recounted.
Mr. MARTIN worked for a prestigious investment firm. Mr. ELLIS was a photographer. Both were 25, with university degrees. And both, it seemed, had a shining future. Instead, both perished in an apparently random hail of bullets, leaving their families in shock.
"Pretty rough, pretty rough," Mr. DUDECK said.
Even in a city where gun killings have become familiar - yesterday's shootings bring Toronto's homicide count for the year to 25 - the double slaying, perhaps the result of an abortive carjacking, was unusual.
As police struggled to reconstruct the events west of the city's entertainment district, Detective Sergeant Gary GIROUX of the homicide squad stressed that from all appearances, neither Mr. ELLIS nor Mr. MARTIN was involved in crime.
"Both young men were loved by their families, they have a great deal of support, and as you can imagine, both families are devastated," he said.
"These two victims were not at all known - I repeat, not at all known - to the Toronto police or any police agency in Canada." The only police record of either stems from when one of them lost his passport about five years ago, another homicide investigator said.
A 911 call came in at 12: 08 a.m. yesterday to the 14 Division police station.
Mr. ELLIS and Mr. MARTIN were found in the front seat of a Range Rover that belongs to Mr. ELLIS's stepfather, outside a friend's condo where they had been watching a basketball game on television. Both were wearing seat belts and the car's engine was running, police said.
Despite paramedics' efforts, both were pronounced dead on arrival at Saint Michael's Hospital.
In the back seat of the Range Rover was a female friend who survived the attack and who is the homicide squad's key witness.
"It may well be the shooter didn't see her and that's why she's alive," Mr. DUDECK said. "We don't know."
All three had been watching the Boston Celtics pull off a comeback win against the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association playoffs.
For several hours, the car was parked outside the condo, and the three departed at around midnight. They briefly returned for what Det. Sgt. GIROUX described as "a very innocent reason&hellip they were expecting someone to come out for a very brief moment."
Instead, they were accosted by the gunman.
"I'd say the shooting took place within seconds," Det. Sgt. GIROUX said. "He may have only been targeting the males in the front seat, but they were certainly in my opinion targeted."
Multiple shots were fired - at least eight, judging by shell-casing markers on the street yesterday - killing the two young men and damaging the interior of the Range Rover.
After speaking to the traumatized young woman, Det. Sgt. GIROUX said the shootings may have been part of an abortive car jacking, and that - for reasons he did not divulge - the killer appeared familiar with the area.
"We're certainly alive to the fact that this was a very expensive, high-end vehicle and I'm looking at it as a marketable thing to steal."
Another police source suggested the violence could have erupted from something as simple as an exchange of angry words.
One witness report said a young black male in a white shirt was seen fleeing the crime scene on a bicycle. Another offered a similar description, but said the man sped away in a blue car.
Under scrutiny, meanwhile, was an array of closed-circuit video footage from buildings near the crime scene.
A friend of the victims who was at Thursday night's gathering said she and other attendees were traumatized by the shooting.
Police swiftly cordoned off the area with yellow tape, and yesterday afternoon, the Range Rover was still being examined by forensic experts.
The car was parked immediately outside 798 Richmond St. West, an upscale, five-year-old rental high-rise, surrounded by townhouses. The area comprises a mix of new money and old, a few blocks west of the downtown entertainment district.
Just metres north is a vibrant section of Queen Street West, and on all sides are older brick homes, some of Victorian vintage.
"There's a sense of community; my house has been broken into, but I do usually feel safe walking along the streets late at night," said long-time resident Maria BARABASH, who lives a block east of the crime scene on Richmond Street.
"But this is a little bit too close to home."
So too for the families of the victims.
About 30 people gathered on the lawn of Mr. ELLIS's parents' home in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood. Some hugged, while others stood around or sat on the lawn in shock.
Tears in his eyes, a young man demanded that reporters respect the family's privacy and leave the street and its million-dollar homes and expensive cars.
Lauren WILKINS, a friend of Mr. MARTIN and Mr. ELLIS, said yesterday the two men were "just wonderful people."
A few blocks away at Mr. OLIVER's home, family members from the East Coast began filtering into the big, ivy-clad brick house, hugging and exchanging condolences.
Mr. MARTIN lived downtown in a house he shared with his sisters.
He graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree from Concordia University's John Molson School of Business. He joined Russell Investments Canada last year and quickly made his mark as a friendly young man poised to take the financial world by storm, said company president Irshaad AHMAD.
"He was the person walking around the office always making Friends. He just made a really tremendous impact."
Mr. MARTIN and Mr. ELLIS had known each other since they were in Grade 1 in Toronto's Brown Junior Public School.
From Toronto, the pair headed for Quebec - Mr. MARTIN attending Concordia University while Mr. ELLIS pursued his passion for photography at Dawson College.
Mr. ELLIS was a thoughtful photographer with an eye for detail, his former mentor said.
"His style was a bit more urban, a bit more shadowy," recalled Laurel Breidon, co-ordinator of the college's commercial photography program.
"Not the bright, clean, happy stuff - a little funky, had a little edge to it."
Mourners set up a candle-lit shrine last night outside the building where Mr. MARTIN and Mr. ELLIS were shot. About 20 bouquets of flowers had been laid against the wall and three candles illuminated a sign taped to the building that reads "May you rest in peace Dylan and Oliver."
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