Police lay murder charges in Danzig double homicide
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 7:13AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2012 10:52PM EST
An 18-year-old man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and a string of other offences in a summer block party shooting on Danzig Street that police now describe as a “violent confrontation” between rival street gangs.
Shaquan Mesquito appeared in court Wednesday to answer to two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, 23 counts of aggravated assault and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm.
Police previously charged Mesquito, a Malvern-area resident known as Bam Bam, with making threats prior to the shooting, in addition to nine other offences. He was already in custody on those charges when the new charges were laid Wednesday.
For a full timeline of events leading up to Thursday's news follow this link.
“The investigation to date has indicated that a local street gang called the Galloway Boys were in attendance at the barbecue and took ownership of it and that a member of the Malvern Crew attended the barbecue and was not allowed access,” Staff Insp. Greg McLane told reporters Thursday morning. “It is alleged that the Malvern Crew member left the barbecue, called a number of his associates and returned to the barbecue to confront the members of the Galloway Boys and seek revenge for being turned away.”
The mid-July shooting killed 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, and injured almost two dozen others, sparking widespread concern about public safety in Toronto and an increased police presence in the neighbourhood.
Charles and Yasay were caught in the crossfire of the shootout.
“The City of Toronto is safe, but Danzig wasn’t safe on that night. On that night some individuals took guns there, took two innocent lives and put a lot of people at risk,” Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters Thursday. “We have not had a gang shooting in this city with so many people injured and great trauma was experienced not only by the people that were hurt but an entire community.”
Police previously suggested that some witnesses and some wounded survivors refused to speak to officers, hindering their investigation.
Responding to a question, Blair said he is hopeful that that will change with the announcement of charges in the case.
“I understand people’s fear and it is fear that keeps people from coming forward, but I want them to know that we need them to come forward,” he said. “The only way we can keep our neighbourhoods safe and our kids safe is by working together.”
On Thursday police released composite sketches of two men they are looking to speak with in connection to the shooting. Both men are described as black males in their 20s. One of them has a noticeable scar under his left eye.
"Investigatiors need to identify them in order to determine what role, if any, they had in this event," McLane said. "It's unclear at this point if they were involved in the shooting or witnessed what took place."
Between 100 and 150 people were present when gunfire erupted at the scene on July 16, McLane said.
Though McLane would not comment on how many firearms were involved in the shooting Thursday, investigators previously said that five firearms and more than 25 shell casings were recovered as evidence at the scene.
Galloway Boys member Nahom Tsegazab, known as Gifted, was previously charged with recklessly discharging a firearm.
Speaking with reporters, McLane said he expects further arrests will be made.
“I am not saying he is solely responsible for all the carnage that happened that day,” he said of the suspect in custody. “With continued help from the community I have great confidence that my investigators will identify others involved so they can be held accountable for their violent actions that day.”
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