A 15-year-old Toronto boy shot and wounded Monday night has died of his injuries – the third child in the GTA to die in gun violence this year – but whether he was killed by someone else or died by misadventure was unclear.
The homicide squad said only that the death of the unidentified teen was “suspicious.”
He was on the third floor of a public-housing apartment complex at 40 Turf Grassway, near Jane Street and Finch Avenue West, when he was struck by a single bullet shortly before 10:30 p.m., police at 31 Division in the city’s north end said.
Wounded in the stomach, he was pronounced VSA – vital signs absent – en route to hospital.
Several teenaged witnesses were being questioned by police, but there was no immediate indication whether any of them were viewed as persons of interest.
No charges have been laid, no arrests have been made, and police have not said they are seeking any suspects.
The building where the shooting occurred is a low-rise Toronto Community Housing building, two blocks south of the Jane/Finch intersection.
Whether the victim lived there or was visiting was uncertain. A handful of residents who came and went said they did not know the boy, and there were no flowers or other mementos at the crime scene.
Whatever caused the boy’s death, it comes on the heels of two recent gun homicides involving young people – another 15-year-old, in the Regent Park housing complex in central-east Toronto, and a 9-year-old slain by a bullet that pierced the front window of his home in Brampton.
Numerous posts on Twitter, however, mourned the boy who was shot at Jane and Finch, whose street name was Tubby.
“I can’t imagine what your moms is going through,” said one.
“Gonna lay down and cry my eyes out,” read another.
“Realest guy, you will not be forgotten,” said a third.
A media report said the boy was known to police, but that could not be independently confirmed.
Beyond dispute is that the shooting took place in one of the city’s grittiest working-class neighbourhoods.
“No, I didn’t know him, but this is everyday stuff for us,” said a woman walking past the building, where a clutch of reporters and TV camera crews waited for information.
Throughout the morning, conflicting reports created confusion as to whether the teen was aged 15 or 18.
That was because the homicide squad did not want to release any details about the victim until his family had all been notified, a police source said.
Police came to the scene Monday night in response to a call about gunshots at the building.
In mid-January, 15-year-old Tyson Bailey was fatally shot in the neck by a gunman lurking in a stairwell of a Regent Park high-rise close to where the teen lived.
Less than a week later, 9-year-old Kesean Williams of Brampton was killed in his home. Peel Regional Police said the shooting was targeted, but it remains unclear who the intended target was.
No arrests have been made in either of those homicides.
In the latest death, TCH leaders said they were saddened by the news, and that their thoughts and prayers were with the boy’s family.
MP Olivia Chow also mourned his death, and urged the federal government to make the Canada Summer Jobs a year-round program, and to enhance the Youth Gang Program by making it permanent.
As well, the witness-protection program needs to be national in scope, Ms. Chow said.
Editor's note: In a previous version of the story, the victim was reported to be 18 years old. Police have offered conflicting reports on his age.