The man found shot to death in Etobicoke on Thursday morning was a cousin of one of the men killed in last month’s Eaton Centre shooting and was affiliated with the same Regent Park street gang, police sources say.
Abdulle Elmi, 25, was shot multiple times in the torso. Police found his body, pyjama-clad and barefoot, on a quiet residential street just after 4 a.m. They have not said whether his death was gang related.
But Mr. Elmi was a member or an associate of the Sic Thugs, according to the police source, who insisted on anonymity.
Born in Somalia, Mr. Elmi lived in Minneapolis, Minn., with his parents for several years while he attended high school. He moved to Toronto in 2008, police say.
His cousin was Ahmed Hassan, another police source said. Mr. Hassan was one of two people killed when a gunman opened fire in the Eaton Centre food court on a busy Saturday evening. Six others were struck or grazed by bullets during the gunfire.
“But I don’t know that the investigators are reading too much into that,” said the source, who also asked not to be named. Mr. Elmi was well-known to Toronto police, the source said.
Mr. Hassan and Nixon Nirmalendran, who died of his wounds a week after the shooting, were members of the Sic Thugs, but police believe the mall shooting was related to a personal dispute.
Christopher Husbands, whom police have said was also part of the Regent Park gang, faces two charges of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.
Mr. Elmi was the second young man from Toronto’s Somali-Canadian community to be killed since the mall shooting in early June. Hussein Hussein, 28, was found shot to death two weeks ago in an upscale Toronto condominium.
Before he moved to Toronto, Mr. Elmi lived with his family in a Minneapolis neighbourhood called Cedar-Riverside, a community well-known for its large Somali population.
Saeed Fahia, a leader in the city’s Somali community, said he remembered Mr. Elmi fondly, as a “very level-headed” young man who was kind to his mother.
He said Mr. Elmi’s mother was in Somalia mourning the death of his grandfather when she learned that her son had been killed in Toronto.
Although Mr. Elmi was found in Etobicoke, police said they are looking to talk to anyone who saw him about an hour earlier, near the downtown intersection of Yonge and College Streets, close to where he was living.
“He’s in the Yonge and College area at three, we know we have him deceased at four halfway across the city,” said Homicide squad Detective Sergeant Pauline Gray. “So what we’re trying to do is tidy up what happened in that hour.”
She said police have “a fair bit of video” that’s been helpful in the investigation, but so far there’s no description of the suspected getaway vehicle beyond it being dark in colour. She was also unable to say whether the suspect is a man or woman or whether there are multiple suspects.
Police are looking for security camera footage from nearby homes and businesses that could give them more information about a dark coloured car seen speeding away from the area, Det. Sgt. Gray said .
Mr. Elmi was unemployed at the time of his death but had worked in restaurants, Det. Sgt. Gray said, adding he had only lived in Toronto since moving to Canada.
The disproportionate number of deaths in the Somali-Canadian community has prompted some leaders to call for more government support to help young people find jobs and better access to education.
In addition to the recent Toronto deaths, at least 23 young Somali-Canadian men have been killed in Alberta since 2005, including many who moved from Toronto to work in Edmonton or Fort McMurray. Most of those crimes are unsolved.
Mr. Elmi’s death was Toronto’s 26th homicide of the year.