Jonathan Davis had just left home to visit his father but he decided he first wanted to change shoes, so he headed back to his Mississauga apartment.
Minutes later, the 17-year-old was dead in a shooting that also left five wounded and was prompted by a dispute over a rap video recorded outside Mr. Davis’s building, police say.
The teen was an innocent bystander, Peel Regional Police Chief Chris McCord said.
Mr. Davis, the 18th homicide victim in Peel Region this year, had been struck in the head, according to a family friend, Selma Alincy.
Mr. Davis’s mother was at her son’s side after he was hit early Saturday evening, Ms. Alincy said in an interview. “She held her son in her arms while he died. That’s something that will live in her memories forever.”
In a GoFundMe fundraising drive to help the family, Ms. Alincy noted that if Mr. Davis hadn’t turned back to go to his home, “all of this wouldn’t have happened. Jonathan was going to his dad’s house but wanted to change his shoes. When he turned around to go back toward his home on the main floor of the building, shots rang out.”
The gun violence in Peel Region continued Monday in an unrelated incident, with police firing at an SUV that was believed to be fleeing after two men were shot – one fatally – in their vehicle during the night in Brampton, west of Toronto.
Mr. Davis died in a parkette shared by a cluster of low-rise apartment blocks on Darcel Avenue, in the Malton area of Mississauga.
The afternoon had been sunny and families with children clustered around an ice-cream truck in the green space at the back of the brick buildings. Then, shortly after 6 p.m., the gunmen arrived.
There were at least seven shooters, dressed in dark clothes, some with balaclavas hiding their faces, and they carried semi-automatic weapons, Chief McCord said Sunday.
They unleashed a hail of gunfire. “It sounded like a fireworks factory went up in flames,” one witness later said on Twitter.
Chief McCord said police recovered more than 100 shell casings at the scene, some on the lawn, others embedded in the cars parked at the back of the buildings. “Over a hundred rounds is a lot of firepower being used in this complex.”
Five people were wounded and taken to trauma centres: a 13-year-old girl; a 16-year-old boy; two 17-year-old boys; and a woman in her 50s.
Sirens blared and emergency-vehicle lights flashed in the darkening sky as police cruisers and ambulances converged on the area.
The gunmen’s target was a group of people who planned to shoot a rap video in the parkette, Chief McCord told reporters. Investigators believe that the shooting was a retaliation for a video shot at the same spot and released earlier last week.
"They come in and open fire indiscriminately. They had no regards for any of the innocent people that were gathered here last night," Chief McCord said.
He said investigators had obtained “copious amounts” of video footage, but asked any witnesses with videos to contact police. He added that so many vehicles had been struck by bullets that police had to make special arrangements to store the cars until forensic technicians could examine them.
Neighbours and community members described Mr. Davis as a quiet homebody with a proclivity for tinkering with electronics.
“The reason he sticks out in my head is that he was one of those kids that would never cause trouble,” said Pat McNaughton, manager of a local community centre Mr. Davis would frequent after school.
The second of four children, Mr. Davis attended Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School, was a responsible big brother to his two younger sisters and “wasn’t the type to hang out outside,” according to Ms. Alincy, the family friend.
In the building lobby, a makeshift memorial has been set up, with pots of yellow flowers, Christmas lights, candles and cards. Many residents kept their children home and lamented the loss of the local police community station, which Peel Regional Police closed in early 2018.
By Monday morning, Peel Regional Police were dealing with another incident – multiple shootings that led to the closing of several roads, including Highway 410, near Sandalwood Parkway.
A vehicle on Highway 410 had been shot up around 2:30 a.m. Police found two people struck by gunshots inside, one dead and the other seriously wounded, Constable Heather Cannon said.
Officers who rushed to the scene tried to stop an Audi SUV from fleeing, said Monica Hudon, a spokeswoman for the Special Investigations Unit, the agency that probes interactions between police and civilians that can result in injury or death.
She said the officers used their squad car to block the Audi from going forward. The Audi then went into reverse and an officer fired several times at it. The SUV was found abandoned further south.
According to CP24, police are investigating whether the suspects later hijacked a Honda Pilot from an Uber driver.