Saturday, September 20, 2014
Toronto's summer of 2014 ending in bloodshed
In a 14-day span, between Sept. 4 and 17, eight people have been murdered in the city, Toronto Police have said.
“There’s no real rhyme or reason for it,” Toronto Police Staff-Insp. Greg McLane, who heads up the homicide unit, told the Toronto Sun recently. “There are no trends or any connections between those homicides that we know of right now.
“The motivations are different, the methods of death are different,” he said, explaining four of the eight recent murder victims were shot, two were stabbed and two were beaten.
And McLane pointed out that the summer of 2014 actually began with an extended “lull.”
The season, which began June 21 and wraps up Tuesday, was more than two weeks old when Rala Federick, 36, was gunned down July 6 on George St., northeast of Jarvis and Dundas Sts., becoming the first murder victim of the summer and the 22nd of the year.
A 37-year-old man was also wounded in the shooting.
By the midway point, Aug. 7, only two others had been killed. But then the violence, like the weather, heated up.
The latter half of the summer has so far seen another 12 people slain — four times more than the first half — bringing the total to 15 over the entire 95 days.
Of those 15 murder victims, eight were shot, three were stabbed and four were beaten to death. Nine of those homicides remain unsolved and two others have suspects who remain on the loose.
There has also been a steady stream of people wounded in shootings and stabbings this summer, many of whom could easily have been added to the list of murder victims if not for the life-saving skills of Toronto’s paramedics, doctors and nurses.
As recently as Friday, just before midnight, a man was stabbed in the stomach near Markham and Ellesmere Rds. in Scarborough.
The seriously injured man remains in hospital but he is in stable condition, police said.
The recent rise in the frequency of killings may be alarming but McLane pointed out that such “spikes,” like the “lulls,” occur occasionally.
And much of the recent violence hasn’t involved gangs, he said.
“Usually when we see firearm offences we think of street gang activity,” McLane said. “There has been some of that, for sure, but it seems that the street gang violence has tailed off a bit.”
While the recent rash of murders has kept his detectives busy, McLane said it’s nothing they can’t handle.
And he’s “confidant” his investigators will be able to bring the homicides that remain unsolved to a successful conclusion.
“Our clearance rate (the number of solved murders) is up over the last three years,” McLane said. “And we’re just shy of 80% clearance for 2013.”
It’s worth noting that while clearance rates may seem low initially, the numbers typically improve dramatically by the following year as cops track down the killers.
“Obviously the recent rash of murders is not something we want to see in the city because it impacts on people’s perception of safety in their communities,” McLane said. “But I want to assure the public that we’re in good shape on these investigations and we continue to solve murders on a daily basis.”
The homicide boss is optimistic the violent end to an otherwise relatively peaceful summer is just “a blip” and not a sign of things to come.
“I’m satisfied Toronto is still a safe place to be,” McLane said.
The summer of 2014, which wraps up Tuesday, began quietly enough with only three murders in the city by the midway point, Aug. 7. But the violence heated up during the later half of the season as another 12 people were slain and a 13th victim was deemed a murder nine months after dying.
JULY 6: Rala Federick, 36, was gunned down on George St., near of Jarvis and Dundas Sts., becoming the first murder victim of the summer and the 22nd of the year. A man, 37, was also wounded in the shooting. No arrests.
JULY 8: Abshir Hassan, 31, a well liked supply teacher, was shot dead outside his building on Flemingdon Rd. in Lawrence Heights while a man, 22, and a woman, 18, were wounded. No arrests.
JULY 15: Duane Small, 44, was beaten to death in a bus shelter at Victoria Park Ave. and Clydesdale Dr., north of Sheppard Ave. E. Raymond McCurdy, 39, faces manslaughter.
AUG. 9: Mohamed Yay, 40, a father of five, was stabbed to death in a playground at a housing complex on The West Mall in south Etobicoke. No arrests.
AUG. 19: Olatoyebi Waheed, 24, was killed and a man, 23, wounded by gunfire while in a vehicle stopped at a red light near Jane St. and Eglinton Ave. W. Franklin Afrifa, 25, faces first-degree murder and attempted murder. Benard Kissi, 24, is still sought for the drive-by shooting.
AUG. 26: Jelena Loncar, 31, was killed outside a nightclub in the Entertainment District, near Wellington and Portland Sts. The shooter also wounded a man, 25, believed to be the intended target. No arrests.
AUG. 30: Jorge Interiano, 40, was beaten to death at Concord Ave. and Bloor St. W., west of Ossington Ave. No arrests.
SEPT. 4: Investigators deem two-and-a-half-year-old Jazara Garrison-Downey’s death a murder and arrest a woman, 18, who was baby-sitting the tot when she stopped breathing Jan. 3 at a home near Wellesley and Bleecker Sts. The accused, who can’t be named because she was 17 at the time, faces second-degree murder.
SEPT. 5: Alexandre Joseph Lavallee, 53, was badly beaten in a Cabbagetown parkette, near Wellesley and Parliament Sts., and died the next day. Paul Douglas Richard, 56, faces second-degree murder.
SEPT. 8: Dwayne Goodwin, 22, was fatally stabbed and a second man wounded when two groups clashed on Danforth Ave. east of Dawes Rd. Vaughan Shears, 19, and a boy, 16, who can’t be identified, face second-degree murder and attempted murder. Mehmet Akkurt, 22, is sought on a Canada-wide warrant.
SEPT. 8: Joseph Okoro, 21, was gunned down in a parking lot behind a business near Jane St. and Lawrence Ave. W. No arrests.
SEPT. 11: Travis Tash, 22, was gunned down behind an apartment building on Upper Canada Dr., near Bayview Ave. and Hwy. 401. No arrests.
SEPT. 11: Richard Pepper, 60, was beaten to death in a fight in the west end, near Mabelle Ave. and Dundas St. W. Jamal Hassan, 22, and Gonffa Krow, 20, each face second-degree murder and assault causing bodily harm.
SEPT. 14: Abdul Monir, 31, a recent immigrant from Afghanistan, was gunned down while working at Pizza Time on Markham Rd., south of Lawrence Ave. E. The pizza shop owner was wounded in the shooting. No arrests.
SEPT. 14: San Tai Yuan, 56, was stabbed to death allegedly in an altercation with a fellow resident at a house on Axsmith Cr., near Don Mills rd. and Finch Ave. E. Zhebin Cong, 43, faces second-degree murder.
SEPT. 17: Jules Jashawn Morrison, 21, was shot to death in the stairwell of a North York apartment building on Fountainhead Rd., near Finch Ave. W. and Keele St. No arrests.
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