In a dignified, emotion-laden appeal, the parents of a young Somali-Canadian slain execution-style 11 days ago told the killer or killers they have been forgiven and should now turn themselves in.
“I would like to speak to my son’s murderers directly,” said Habiba Adan, the mother of Warsame Ali. “I forgive you for killing my son but want you to surrender yourself to the police. It is the only way you can clear your conscience.”
Mr. Ali and his friend Suleiman Ali – both 26, both known to police, and unrelated despite their shared family name – were found shot to death near Jamestown Crescent and John Garland Boulevard on Sept. 18, the most recent casualties in a string of killings that since early June has claimed the lives of six Somali-Canadians in Toronto.
Warsame Ali’s mother described him as “a loving son, brother, cousin and nephew.... He was a very important part of our lives. We miss him.”
An arrest, she said, “would provide us with needed closure.”
Her husband, Mohamed Husssein, reiterated the same message.
“To err is human and to forgive is divine,” he said. “As parents, we are willing to forgive the murder of our son. However, please come forward to police. We forgive you and we pray that God also forgives you.”
About three hours before they were killed, the two long-time friends were glimpsed in a bar with three other men, homicide detectives told a news conference at 23 Division in the city’s northwest, and the unknown trio was urged to step forward.
“We know both these men were intended targets,” Detective Joyce Schertzer said, citing the multiple bullet wounds the two victims sustained.
“But we haven’t established a motive. …This is a densely populated community and with the location of the events and the time, somebody heard something and somebody saw something and we want to encourage them to come forward.”
So far, police conceded, the badly needed community input into Toronto’s 39th and 40th homicides of the year has been very limited.
In particular, investigators are anxious to recover pieces of clothing that the two victims were wearing earlier that evening, but which had vanished when their bodies were found.
One is a light-coloured blue/grey T-shirt with a small Air Jordan logo on the upper left chest, and two white stripes on the left arm. The other is a hooded sweatshirt with the word “VANS” written across the chest in large letters.
The twin killings occurred in Rexdale’s Jamestown area, a public-housing community with a long-documented history of gang violence.
But so far, police said, there is nothing to link these two murders to any others.
Although both victims had criminal records, it’s also clear that Warsame Ali was well liked and had many friends.
Both families have been “devastated” by the killings, Det. Schertzer’s partner, Detective Justin Vander Heyden, said.
“My family is still trying to make sense of the senseless,” Warsame’s cousin, Sagal Ali, wrote in a tribute.
While concurring her cousin had made some poor choices, he was determined to turn his life around, she said, and was a warm, charismatic figure.
“Perhaps that’s why he made friends so easily – people were drawn to his warmth.”
Ms. Ali also alluded to the larger picture of intra-Somali conflict, manifest both in Toronto and in northern Alberta, where many other young Somali-Canadians have been slain in what police and others believe is a pattern of destruction rooted in the drug trade.
In Toronto, “The six mothers mourn together, forever bonded by their unfathomable loss, a broken hearts club of sorts,” she wrote.
Neither of the two murdered men lived in Jamestown, but one of them lived there a number of years ago and still had connections to the area, Det. Vander Heyden told reporters.