Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teacher killed, two wounded in Lawrence Heights shooting

TORONTO - A supply teacher was killed and two others seriously injured in a hail of bullets fired at close range in front of a Lawrence Heights lowrise early Tuesday.

Toronto Police say officers patrolling nearby heard gunfire erupt at 11 Flemington Rd., near Lawrence Ave. W. and Allen Rd., around 12:15 a.m. and responded immediately to find two men and one woman shot multiple times.

“This is obviously a horrendous event that has taken place,” Insp. Tim Crone, of 32 Division, said at the scene Tuesday. “It’s very, very disturbing.”

As Forensics Unit officers gathered evidence, he explained one of the victims succumbed to his injuries in hospital about eight hours after being shot.

The city’s 23rd murder victim of the year has been identified as Abshir Hassan, 31 — a well-liked occasional teacher at Lawrence Heights Middle School on nearby Highland Hill and other neighbourhood schools.

The two surviving victims — an 18-year-old woman and 22-year-old man — remain in “very serious condition,” Crone said, adding none of the victims were known to police prior to the shooting.

Investigators believe a vehicle pulled up to the apartment building and an assailant walked up to a group of people outside the west entrance, opened fire and took off.

“This was a very brazen, cowardly act in a community that has made great strides in the past few years to bring a sense of calm and safety to the area,” Crone said of Lawrence Heights, a neighbourhood that has seen more than its fair share of gun violence in the past.

Police released few other details of the deadly incident, the city’s third shooting in six weeks where three or more victims have been hit by gunfire.

On June 29, three men in their 20s were injured when gunshots rang out at a housing complex on San Antonio Way, near Islington and Steeles Aves.

And on May 24, a gunman opened fire at a housing complex on Walpole Ave., near Greenwood Ave. and Gerrard St., killing Douglas Parker, 20, and wounding his three friends.

Lawrence Heights residents say the latest victims were just hanging out on the stoop of the Flemington lowrise enjoying a warm summer’s night when they were shot.

One woman, who lives in the building next door and wouldn’t give her name, said she rushed outside after hearing the gunfire to see two men and one woman covered in blood.

“I heard (a woman) screaming, ‘My only son,’ ” she recalled, adding it’s something she’ll never forget.

Sam, a man who stopped by the scene and refused to give his last name, said Hassan was his “best friend.”

“Everybody is in shock,” he said.

He said Hassan, who was not married and had no kids, lived in a ground-floor apartment next to the doorway where he was killed.

Hassan was “not a fighter,” Sam said, adding he couldn’t understand why anyone would shoot him.

No arrests were made and a description of the killer was not immediately released.

But Crone said investigators were reviewing surveillance video from area cameras.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is urged to call police at 416-808-3200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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