TSN employee murdered in Etobicoke was 'ambitious' man who was 'always smiling'
Katherine DeClerq, CP24.com
Published Friday, December 14, 2018 8:57PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 14, 2018 9:10PM EST
It was about 1 a.m. on Thursday when police officers knocked on Grace Gayle’s front door to inform her that her son had been fatally shot.
Grace’s son, 29-year-old Jonathan Gayle-West, was found by police inside a vehicle near Islington Avenue and St. Andrews Boulevard, suffering from gunshot wounds. The vehicle he was in had veered off the roadway and struck a tree.
Jonathan was pronounced dead at the scene.
“For me, I was restless that night. I don’t know why. At one o’clock I got up and I went straight to the front window and I saw a man walking up the steps. And I got a little frightened,” she told CTV News Toronto. “My nephew was here. He came down from upstairs…He opened the door.”
Grace remembers the officers asking her questions about Jonathan before telling her he had been shot and killed.
“I was beside myself,” she said. “I started screaming and jumping and running and I went in my room.”
Justin Gayle, the victim’s brother, said that his mother called him around 2 a.m. saying that Jonathan had died.
“When it finally dawned on me, I don’t know, I cried,” he said. “Me and my wife stayed up for another five hours crying, just holding each other.”
Justin described his brother as someone who brought joy to others and who loved to travel.
“The number one thing I heard from people is the light that he brought. The joy that he brought to people,” he said. “He was adventurous. He loved to go out into the world and try new things and experience the world.”
“The one good thing we can take from all this tragedy is we get to see exactly how he affected so many people in the world,” Justin added.
Grace said that her son was a “very soft spoken” young man with a nice smile.
“He’s always ready to give you a hug and say I love you,” she said. “I was very proud of him. He has a goal in mind and he works very hard to get there.”
Jonathan was a story editor with TSN and worked on the show Jay and Dan, BarDown and at the radio station TSN 1050. His colleagues said he was about to audition for an on-air role with the sports network.
Jay and Dan shared a video of Jonathan participating in “a bit” on their show, saying that the young man “was always smiling.”
TSN’s BarDown posted a statement to social media Thursday night, saying that Jonathan was “one of the friendliest and most ambitious people in the building.”
“He will be greatly missed,” the show said on Twitter.
Friends described him as a natural-born leader with a larger-than-life personality.
“People just gravitated towards him. He has the biggest personality I’ve ever known in a person. He is a leader. He is a motivator. He is everything you would want a human being to be,” longtime friend Nick McPherson.
Justin Gayle told CTV News Toronto that his family is still trying to process the fact that Jonathan has died, and doesn’t know why he would have been shot.
“We’re still piecing together that it happened, let alone how it happened,” he said. “Obviously we want justice, but right now we are in full grieving mode and we aren’t even at a point right now where we can ask these questions without breaking down.”
Police are still searching for two people of interest who were seen fleeing the area of the collision where Jonathan was found.
Gayle-West’s family is urging those people to come forward and speak with police.
“I feel like there is a chance for them to do the right thing and that chance isn’t gone yet,” Justin said. “They may feel like it’s too far gone already or that there is no place for redemption, but they still have an opportunity to bring some kind of closure to this, to tell what they know.”
“We are a forgiving family and we would like that for Jonathan. He was that kind of person as well,” Grace said.
Investigators are also asking anyone who may have been travelling on Islington Avenue between Highway 401 and Dixon Road around the time of the collision to contact the authorities.