The victims of a brazen shooting outside a west Toronto housing complex earlier this week were “chill guys” who stayed away from gang activity, their families said.
Warsame Ali and Suleiman Ali, both 26, were found shot to death near a townhouse on Jamestown Crescent early Tuesday morning. The men were not related.
On Friday, hundreds of people gathered at an Etobicoke mosque for a lengthy service mourning their deaths. They were the fifth and sixth young Canadian-Somalis who have been killed in the city since early June, a staggering number that has prompted soul-searching and calls for help from parents and leaders in the community.
Sagal Ali said her cousin Warsame had been working in Montreal in recent months, but returned to his parents’ home in Vaughan last weekend so he could catch up with family and friends. “He was very loyal, a huge family guy,” she said.
Although neither he nor Suleiman Ali are from the social housing complex on Jamestown Crescent, both were in that neighbourhood early Tuesday morning. A woman in the area reported hearing gunshots around 1:20 a.m. She told police she saw two men on the ground and a third fleeing the area on foot.
Their deaths came less than two weeks after another Canadian-Somali, Abdulaziz Farah, 28, was shot and killed in a suburban Scarborough neighbourhood. Both of the men who died in the Jamestown shootings knew Mr. Farah, according to a family member.
Ahmed Ali, Warsame’s older brother, said he received a text from Warsame shortly after Mr. Farah’s death. “He just said that guy was … he was just too nice of a person to die like that,” Mr. Ali recalled. “He was pretty broken up.”
Speaking at Mr. Farah’s funeral last week, youth worker Abdifatah Warsame urged young people in the community to “get out of the game” for their own safety. Mr. Warsame said he believes battles over turf and drugs could be at the root of some of the recent slayings, and he wants police and governments to provide more resources to the community to help young people succeed in school and find better jobs.
The two men killed in Jamestown had been in trouble with police in the past, their families said. But they dispute any suggestion that it was for gang-related activities.
Fadumo Ali, Suleiman’s younger sister, said her brother was planning to go back to school, and hoped to find a job that would help him build a future for his seven-year-old son, who lives in Dubai. “He was a fun-loving, happy kid,” she said of her brother.
Ahmed Ali said both young men were “chill guys.” He said his brother wore his heart on his sleeve, recounting one cold winter day when he watched Warsame hand his coat to a homeless man who was shivering on a snow-covered sidewalk downtown.
“As cliché or optimistic as that might sound, he was just that kind of person,” Mr. Ali said. “He’s done some dumb things, but he’s been good for the last bit, and he was moving on with his life.”
Many of those who attended Friday’s funeral service said they’re still struggling to understand what’s behind the large number of recent deaths.
“It’ s not a Somali community problem, it’s a Canadian problem, it’s a Toronto problem,” said Warsame Ali’s aunt, Faduma Mohamed. “Everyone has to take responsibility.”