An aspiring rap artist from Scarborough who was shot dead over the weekend may have offended his killer through his lyrics, Toronto police said Tuesday.
"Disrespect is a motive for murder. I've seen that before and unfortunately it doesn't seem to be significant to general members of the community, but it is in the gang culture," Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux said.
"I won't know until witnesses come forward, but the fact is that there could very well be a link between the lyrics of a song and a perceived disrespect."
Det. Sgt. Giroux spoke to members of the media Tuesday morning in an appeal for friends of 23-year-old Anthony Spencer to come forward. The young father of a three-year-old daughter was shot Saturday morning around 5 a.m. at a recording studio on Brimley Road in Scarborough, police said.
The aspiring rapper, who performs under the name Tony Trapz, was recording music late with friends when they were approached by the offenders, police said. Mr. Spencer was shot at close range and his attackers fled the scene. Police are currently seeking a warrant to search the studio.
According to police, Mr. Spencer's friends took him to the emergency room, but fled the hospital after dropping him off. Police are urging any witnesses or friends of the deceased to come forward to help identify the shooter.
"I understand that witnessing a homicide must be a frightening event and certainly witnessing the homicide of a close friend must be absolutely devastating," Det. Sgt. Giroux said.
"I'm asking the friends of Anthony Spencer now to tangibly demonstrate their affection and loyalty to him by coming forward and telling the police what they saw that night."
Although Mr. Spencer was not known to police and does not appear to have had gang associations, Det. Sgt. Giroux explained they cannot rule out gang involvement in the shooting.
Mr. Spencer's mother, father, brother and sister-in-law were at police headquarters, visibly distraught. His sister, Susan Spencer, spoke briefly to appeal for witnesses.
"I'm asking and begging anyone, and especially his friends...please show your loyalty in coming forward and bringing forward the person that is responsible for taking my brother's life," she said.
Ms. Spencer noted she believes fear prevents the witnesses from coming forward, but she is hopeful their plea will be answered.
"He was somebody. He has a family. He's not just a name in a newspaper," she said.
"He's my baby brother."