Two Toronto men already in custody on weapons charges have been charged in the January shooting death of an aspiring rapper in a Scarborough recording studio, and a woman is being sought on a Canada-wide warrant.
Anthony Spencer, 23, died in the early hours of Jan. 21, felled by a single bullet when gunfire erupted at the studio, near Lawrence Avenue East and Brimley Road.
Samuel Paul, also 23, is charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm.
Chever Ashley, 22, is accused of being an accessory after the fact to murder, robbery with a firearm and assault.
Both men face eight other gun charges, all stemming from the alleged murder weapon, a semi-automatic handgun.
LaPrincia Palmer, 19, who was allegedly with Mr. Paul and Mr. Ashley when Mr. Spencer and several of his friends were robbed that night as he recorded a hip-hop song, is wanted for armed robbery and attempting to obstruct justice.
Both accused men have been behind bars since January. They made brief court appearances Tuesday morning and were remanded back into custody.
Each has gang ties and both lived violent lifestyles, Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux told reporters Tuesday, and initially police suspected Mr. Spencer’s death might have been related to a gangster-flavoured music video posted on YouTube, in which he performed under the name Tony Trapz.
In fact, however, the motive underlying Mr. Spencer’s death – the fourth homicide of the year – was less complicated, Det. Sgt. Giroux said. “This was a robbery-based homicide … it’s quite simple.”
Both of the accused are well-known to police, but Mr. Spencer, the father of a young daughter, was not, Det. Sgt. Giroux said. He added that Mr. Spencer knew Mr. Paul slightly and both had recorded songs at the studio, known as the Dungeon, located at 799 Brimley Road.
Several days after Mr. Spencer’s death, Mr. Paul and Mr. Ashley were arrested on weapons charges, and although they did not name them at the time, police made clear they believed the pair had connections to the slaying. They have been held ever since, at the Toronto West Detention Centre and the Toronto East Detention Centre. respectively.
Shortly after the two were initially arrested, detectives also released security footage of a young woman, now alleged to be Ms. Palmer, walking in and out of the studio shortly before the shooting.
She was phoning for a cab when the sound of the fatal shot was caught on audiotape. On Tuesday, Det. Sgt. Giroux urged her to surrender.
“The world can be a very small place for a person as unsophisticated as she is,” he said.