Although admired by his co-workers for his charisma and adored by his friends and family for his comedy, Darcy Allan Sheppard had a darker side.
The night he was killed in a collision that is alleged to have involved former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant, the 33-year-old bike messenger was in a confrontation with police, and 61 warrants for his arrest were outstanding in Alberta.
His family, co-workers and friends were in shock yesterday, and his adoptive father, who had just returned to Alberta after a visit, was on his way back to Toronto.
"He taught me everything I know," said Mr. Sheppard's half-brother, David Roy Sheppard. "I'm really going to miss him."
Neighbours at Mr. Sheppard's girlfriend's apartment on George Street described a different side of the handsome young courier. They said he drank often and would have loud parties with his cyclist friends.
Annette Wabie, who lives in the apartment below, said she often had to ask him to keep the noise down.
"He goes, well, you're going to have to get used to it. It's my lifestyle, we're bikers," she said.
On Monday evening, shortly before he was killed, Mr. Sheppard had been drinking, and police were called to his girlfriend's apartment, according to neighbours and police.
Landlord Peter Veljkvoic said Mr. Sheppard moved into the apartment with his girlfriend, Misty Bailey, in May. He said the couple were exemplary tenants until a few months ago, about the same time that Mr. Sheppard moved out. Some co-workers said the couple had broken up.
Toronto police said that Mr. Sheppard did not have a criminal record in Ontario, but Edmonton police said Alberta had 61 outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The warrants related to allegations that Mr. Sheppard forged checks and cashed them at Money Marts in Alberta, Edmonton police said.
"He was the subject of a substantive fraud, uttering forged documents, stolen property file," said Staff Sergeant Bill Allan of the Edmonton Police Service. "What this guy was doing was he was going to Money Mart and he was cashing cheques for like $98 to himself."
In 2003, he was released on bail and soon afterward failed to make a scheduled court appearance, Staff Sgt. Allan said.
David Roy Sheppard said that he and his brother were adopted when they were 4 and 6, and had grown up in Edmonton.
Mr. Sheppard moved to Toronto to pursue stand-up comedy and be closer to his four children, two daughters and two sons, according to his half-brother, who is serving a four-year sentence for drug trafficking in Winnipeg.
The long-time courier began cycling as a teenager, and had been involved in at least one serious accident.
"He'd been hit by a car once before, a couple years ago," said David Roy Sheppard. "He had to learn how to walk all over again."
Mr. Sheppard had been able to begin cycling again in the last year and enjoyed his job as a courier, according to his brother.
Co-workers at Action Messenger, where Mr. Sheppard worked, described him as charming and sincere.
Ken Brownhill, vice-president of Action Messenger, said he'd received e-mails from clients commenting on what a pleasure it was to work with Mr. Sheppard.
"He fixed people's cars, like, he'd fix the tail lights on the couriers' cars," said Brian Harris, a long-time friend and fellow bike messenger. Mr. Harris added that the light fixing was a bit self-serving, as broken tail lights can be a hazard to cyclists.
The two men shared a passion for parties and cycling. After work, they'd ride to one of the city's parks and sit and have a drink.
Mr. Bryant has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death.
With reports from Timothy
Appleby, Christie Blatchford and Celia Donnelly