Monday, February 8, 2016

Sharmarke Farah, 17 Among Four Slain in GTA

The killing of a teenager outside a Mississauga hookah bar was one of four murders that took place within a span of several hours early Sunday.

Peel Regional Police officers were busy with two unrelated killings — one in Mississauga and another in Brampton — which started as altercations at nightclubs.

Insp. Sean Lawson said two murders in the same night is “very rare” in Peel — and not indicative of a spike in violent crime.

“I’ve only had that happen in 2004 and 2008 ... Two separate homicides, not related,” said Lawson. “It’s concerning to us as a police organization and to the community ... but I don’t think it is indicative of a spike in crime in Peel Region.”

In Toronto, there was a spike in deadly crime last month. Killers claimed 10 victims in Toronto in January — eight of those murdered were gunned down.

Here is a list of Sunday morning’s homicides:

•Around 1 a.m., officers in Peel were called to a shooting at the Habibi shisha lounge on Derry Rd E., near Airport Rd, in Mississauga, where they found 17-year-old Sharmarke Farah, of Toronto, with “serious trauma” to the body.

Police wouldn’t confirm exactly how Farah died, but Insp. Lawson said a “very short” altercation took place outside the club and involved as many as 20 people — all were inside the lounge before the fight started.

Farah, a student at Runnymede Collegiate Institute, was reportedly shot.

“Our condolences go out to the family, friends and classmates of Sharmarke Farah,” said the Toronto District School Board in a statement released late Sunday. “Flags will be lowered to half-staff at (the high school) on Monday and councillors will be on site to support students and staff.”

A Peel Police spokesman said investigators are speaking with multiple witnesses, including patrons at the club that night.

•Police were called around 4:30 a.m. to Masta’s Lounge on Orenda Rd. in Brampton after a 23-year-old man was shot dead following an altercation at the club.

A witness told the media she was there that night with friends, but had walked outside for a smoke when a fight from inside spilled into the parking lot.

“I saw a black male shoot (another man),” said the woman, 30, who didn’t want to be named. “There was a fight inside and it came outside.”

As of late Sunday, police hadn’t released the name of the victim, a Brampton resident.

•Homicide investigators probed York Region’s first murder of the year after a 22-year-old Richmond Hill man died from stab wounds.

York Regional Police reported the killing took place after a 3 a.m. fight between two groups in a Vaughan plaza dotted with bars in the Hwy. 7-Hwy. 400 area. He was pronounced dead on scene.

A 22-year-old Aurora man was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

“The altercation took place out in the parking lot,” said Const. Andy Pattenden.

There was a heavy police presence at the plaza hours after the double stabbing. A drone was deployed to take overhead photographs for investigators.

Officers with the search-and-rescue unit combed the area for evidence.

“They could have gone anywhere and dropped anything,” Pattenden said of potential suspects.

Police believe a lot of people were present when the violence broke out, he added.

“It is a popular entertainment area,” Pattenden said. “They might have come out of one of these places here, and that’s why our investigators are going to be speaking with all the businesses, to see who came out of where and if there’s any video of that.”

•One man is dead and another in custody after Toronto Police responded to a community housing building in East York early Sunday morning.

It is unclear what exactly led officers to the Wakunda Place building, by O’Connor Dr., around 6:30 a.m. Police are investigating it as a homicide.

Const. Victor Kwong said it came in as a medical call with few details.

“When we got there, we found a guy who was pronounced dead on scene shortly right after,” he said. “And then on scene, they arrested a man.”

There was no word on any charges.

Tenant James Van said the victim was a man named “Kent.”

“This building is crazy,” he said. “I’ve lived here 22 years. I’ve seen it just go downhill.”

Veronica Roe, 54, said she blames “ongoing alcohol and drug issues” for the violence.

“Am I surprised that it happened? No, not at all,” she said.

TCHC considers Wakunda Place a “priority” area, said spokesman Lisa Murray, who was unable to provide details of what happened Sunday.
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