Just before 8 a.m. Friday, O’She Doyles-Whyte woke up and tweeted: “R.I.P”
The 16-year-old had been posting it every so often, a shout-out to a fallen friend, 15-year-old Tahj Loor-Walters, who had been shot at the Yorkwoods Plaza, just south of Jane St. and Finch Ave., on July 28. Walters died two weeks later.
On Friday afternoon, less than six hours after sending that tweet, Doyles-Whyte and friend Kwame Duodu, 15, were both killed, gunned down at the front entrance of a townhome in a community housing complex. Doyles-Whyte died at the scene and Duodu died later in hospital, police confirmed.
Whyte’s Twitter display name and profile were dedicated to Walters — whose friends called him “Skinny” — and another 15-year-old from the Jane and Finch area who was shot and killed in February: St. Aubyn Rodney or “Tubby.”
In the past six months, five teens have been shot and four have died within a one-kilometre radius in the Jane St. and Finch Ave. community. According to friends and online messages of condolence, the four teens who are now dead were all friends.
On Friday, emergency services were called to a home at 287 Grandravine Dr. at 1:30 p.m. — two teens had been shot. Police said three people fled the scene on bicycles. No suspects are in custody.
EMS said Duodu was rushed to a Sunnybrook Hospital’s trauma centre with life-threatening injuries. A woman who lives two doors down described him lying on the ground, his breathing shallow, as she told him: “Stay up, stay up.”
The woman, who would not give her name, said Doyles-Whyte lay nearby, a bicycle between his legs. He had been shot in the head.
“The second one, unfortunately, we could not resuscitate,” said EMS spokesperson Kim McKinnon.
Andre Jackson, 17, said he was best friends with Doyles-Whyte and had grown up next door to him.
“It is out of nowhere … He hasn’t even lived his life yet,” said Jackson, sitting with his head in his hands at the Yorkwoods Village complex. “Just a fun guy. Any time you needed anything, go to O’She.”
Ivan Watson, a cousin, had raced from work when he heard the news. He stood in front of a line of yellow police tape that criss-crossed between trees at the scene.
“What’d he do? That’s what I can’t understand. Why’d they shoot him?” he asked, describing how his cousin liked to have sleepovers with friends and play video games.
“He’s a good kid,” Watson said. “I’m sick right now.”
That shock was felt by others at the housing complex and online. Friends and residents all said the boys were not the “bad ones,” not tied up with gangs or drugs.
It’s not known whether Doyles-Whyte lived at the 306-unit complex. But on Friday his body lay under an orange tarp just outside an address identified as Duodu’s home by tenant representative Alicia Bartholemew.
Bartholemew said the two friends could always be seen together on the front porch after school.
“They’d usually just sit there and chill out,” she said, adding there had never been a shooting like this at the complex in the eight years she’s lived there.
In the weeks before he himself was gunned down, Walters also posted and retweeted messages in memory of Rodney, including one last post before he was shot.
Det.-Sgt. Dean Burks, a homicide detective working on the Walters case, confirmed Rodney and Walters knew each other but said their deaths were in no way connected. Walters was shot after riding his bicycle up to a cream-coloured car in the parking lot. Dozens saw the late-night shooting, and Burks has appealed for witnesses to come forward.
On Aug. 16, a 17-year-old was shot in the abdomen outside a highrise complex on Jane St. just north of where Walters was shot. That teen survived. Walters’ older brother tweeted about the shooting in support of the victim, but his tweets have since been deleted.
It’s not clear if any of the five shootings in the area are related.
“We are angered and saddened by the tragic loss of yet another young life to gun violence in this city,” read a statement Friday evening from Gene Jones, president of Toronto Community Housing, before it was known at Duodu had died.
“At the very point in their lives when they should be looking forward to a bright future, too many of our young people are losing their lives to gun violence.”
Jones called for the whole city to stand together against “the criminals who are opening fire in our communities.”
Online messages of grief poured in for the two teens as friends mourned lives lost so quickly.
“Toronto’s just one big battlefield,” wrote one.Please share this