O’She Doyles-Whyte’s mother cried out “why?” over and over after Kwame Duodu’s mother broke down during a vigil Wednesday night at the scene of the shooting that killed both their teenage sons last Friday near Jane and Finch.
More than 200 people gathered for a vigil for Mr. Doyles-Whyte, 16 and Mr. Duodu, 15, many wearing t-shirts with the letters R.I.P written above pictures of the slain teens. One man carried a white cross with the words, “R.I.P. Kwame Duodu” painted on it in black lettering. Together they sang “Farther along we’ll understand why.” The lyrics to the Christian hymn about loss were little solace to the families of the two popular teens.
Comfort Mireku, mother of 15-year-old Mr. Duodu, sobbed so hard at the candlelit walk that the women flanking her had to carry her into a neighbour’s home for relief when she rounded the corner and saw the memorial for the two teens shot in front of her family’s home at 287 Grandravine Drive.
Stephanie Whyte, mother of the slain 16-year-old, cried out, “Somebody tell me why.”
She further broke her silence by later appealing for change during an interview at the Oakdale Community Centre.
“I would like to see the violence stop,” she said. “Every child, I think, should have the right to be able to walk or to be able to visit their friends at 1:30 in the afternoon without being gunned down.”
“I shouldn’t have to be worried that my other two kids, when they go outside, that they might not come back,” she said speaking of her 14– and 9-year-old sons. “This is a fear that I have to live with. It shouldn’t be like that,” she said. “Something has to be done.”
Mr. Duodu’s 21-year-old sister, Comfort Duodu, wore a t-shirt covered with photos of her and her brother, who she said wanted to be an engineer.
“My brother was a good kid,” she said. “He had potential. He was going to grow up to be a good person.”
She talked about his summer job with the local Boys and Girls Club.
“I was proud of my brother when he got his first job,” she said. He bought their younger brother a pair of Nike shoes with his first paycheque she said.
Mr. Duodu and Mr. Doyles-Whyte both spent their summer working as camp counsellors.
Sharnette Watson, Mr. Doyles-Whyte’s 28-year-old cousin, also a youth worker with the city of Toronto, was close with the teen and said he liked working with youth.
“He said he liked it, but it was tiring” because he would come home and take care of his two younger brothers, said Ms. Watson.
She described Mr. Doyles-Whyte as a fun-loving, cuddly, family-oriented individual.
When asked if Mr. Doyles-Whyte, who was friends with Mr. Duodu also knew two other slain teens – 16– year-old Tahj Loor-Walters, who died from gunshot wounds in July this year, and 15-year-old St. Aubyn Rodney, who was killed in the area in February – Ms. Watson said they grew up together.
“They were all good kids,” she said. “It takes a community to raise a child and that’s exactly what this community did.”
Ms. Watson reiterated that her cousin was never in trouble with the law.
“O’She was not the type to be into guns, drugs, nothing,” she said.
In an earlier interview, Detective Terry Browne said he had no reason to believe the four deceased boys knew each other for any reason other than that they grew up in the same neighbourhood. Det. Browne also noted that none of the boys were known to police before their untimely deaths.
Police are currently searching for three suspects who witnesses say fled the scene of Friday’s shooting on bicycles that police believe they have located near the scene at 287 Grandravine Drive. A forensic investigation of the bicycles is underway.
Mr. Duodu’s uncle, Samuel Addo, appealed to the public to come forward if they know anything.
“Those who did this are still out there,” he said in an interview. “We’re pleading with the public.”
“Please don’t be … don’t just sit down. Do something because you never know it could happen to you,” said the distraught uncle through pauses to catch his breath.
Lydia Kyeame, Mr. Duodu’s aunt, explained that it would always be hard to live in the area without her nephew.
“How do you live?” she asked.
She too appealed to the public for information.
“The family is begging anybody … at all with any of such information that could be helpful to come forward,” she said. “We are begging you, because you could save another child’s life.”