Murder charges dropped against man accused in Danzig Street shooting

First-degree murder charges have been dropped against a man accused of killing two people at a Scarborough block party.

The mass shooting by rival gangs on Danzig Street injured 23 people attending a barbeque in the summer of 2012. Fourteen-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay died from their injuries.

Shaquan Mesquito, now 21, had been facing two charges of first-degree murder , one charge of attempted murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault in connection with the fatal shooting. His lawyer, Liam O’Connor, confirmed Friday that each of those charges have been dropped.

Speaking with CP24, O’Connor said the charges were dropped after police uncovered evidence showing that Mesquito was in fact at an apartment building nine kilometres away from the shooting when the bullets rang out, despite the fact that he sent out messages afterward claiming responsibility.

“It appears from his messages that he thought people that he was close to were responsible for it,” O’Connor said. “Because he had sent out messages asking them to do it, he took responsibility. Unfortunately it played out like that. In fact he wasn’t connected to the people who had done the shooting.”

In addition to the messages that Mesquito sent claiming responsibility, witnesses who were at the Danzig Street block party claimed they saw him on site. If convicted, he could have faced back-to-back life sentences.

Speaking to reporters about the outcome Friday, Crown attorney Tom Pittman credited diligent police work for uncovering the evidence.

“He (Mesquito) continued to claim credit for it throughout the time he was in custody,” Pittman said. “If it wasn’t for (Det.) Pete Trimble here and the effort that they (Toronto police) made to track down all the evidence that informed what we were going to do, we wouldn’t have found this video.”

O’Connor also praised Toronto police, as well as Pittman for their thorough work and said he’s never worked on such a case before where police, the Crown and the defence all work together to uncover the facts.

“They really did their homework and went back through thousands of text messages, phone calls that were intercepted and interviewed a lot of people,” he said. “The Toronto Police deserve a pat on the back for this one.”

While the original charges were dropped, O’Connor said Mesquito, also known by the street name “Bam Bam,” has pleaded guilty to four new charges: counselling to commit murder, possession of a firearm, breach of a prohibition order and uttering a threat.

O’Connor said his client is not accused of counselling anyone who actually committed a murder.

The Crown and the defence have jointly recommended he receive a sentence of nine years, less pretrial custody, leaving him to serve five years and three months.

Speaking with CP24 following the news, the grandfather of Shyanne Charles said he’s satisfied that justice was carried out.

“Today was a good day. I congratulated the police on doing a fine job,” Tyrone Charles said. “Instead of putting him in jail for 10 or 15 years and then finding out that he’s innocent, they know the truth and set him free, which is good.

“The cause you create is the reaction you’re going to get. He created a cause by spreading rumors that he did this, because of ego.”

In April, Nahom Tsegazab was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter and six counts of aggravated assault for his part in the shooting.Two other men who were youths at the time are still facing charges in connection with the shooting.

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