Why did it happen?

Shrine for Keyon in the school's main foyer

Mother Teresa pays tribute to its fallen student, Keyon Campbell,
with a shrine in the school’s main foyer.
Photo credit: Abbas Somji

How long will it take for Keyon Campbell’s name to be reduced to little more than a statistic?

The 16-year-old Malvern resident who was gunned down mere days after another gun-related fatality in the city’s east end is Toronto’s 80th homicide of the year.

But why was a smart, socially-active teen allowed to die?

“Why he was killed is because he was a young man who was in a community with other young men,” said Anthony Hutchinson, an organizer for Real Opportunities for Success in Education (ROSE), a program geared toward challenged youth.

“They are simply young men, and they engage in opportunities and behaviours that can be very problematic,” added Hutchinson, who knew Campbell personally through the program.

Det. Hank Idsinga, of Scarborough’s 42 Division, would not offer too much information regarding the probe.

“I can’t start speculating on a motive for why the shooting occurred this early in the investigation,” said Idsinga.

Area not at fault

“Has the neighbourhood had its problems? Yes, but will I directly attribute neighbourhood problems to the murder? No.

“The depth of Keyon’s associations with his [numerous friends] is being investigated and whether those people themselves had any associations to violent youth is something that is being investigated.”

Hutchinson says he doesn’t believe that Campbell was necessarily targeted.

“In Keyon’s case, they weren’t looking for Keyon,” Hutchinson said. “They were looking for a young person associated with that community, just to send a message.

“He’s definitely a guy who had been caught in the middle.”

Comparatively, Idsinga says he feels that this crime may not have been a random act of violence.

“It’s a possibility he was targeted,” said Idsinga. “We’ve had some information coming in but we’d like to see quite a bit more. There are a lot of people out there who know exactly what happened and they need to call me or Crime Stoppers.”

Idsinga is examining trends in the recent chain of gun-related attacks across the city.

“If you look at the recent events in the Mornelle [Court] area and in the Jane-Sheppard area, there’s a problem with guns out there,” Idsinga said.

“Is there going to be another murder in Toronto, let alone Scarborough? Absolutely. Is another 16-year-old going to get shot while standing on the front stoop of his entrance? I can’t answer that.”

Idsinga maintains that the east Scarborough region is still relatively safe, in spite of worries among Malvern residents that there aren’t enough youth-based programs to crack down on crime in the community.

“There are some very good programs in the Malvern area and there’s some very high visibility police projects ongoing throughout the city and we do target high-risk neighbourhoods, and that is one of the neighbourhoods that have this program,” said Idsinga, who added that the division has a very large foot contingent that goes into the area.

Authorities active

“The guns and gangs unit is always active and they have several teams that have done a lot of work in the area and we’re putting a lot of resources into dealing with the problem.

“Though it’s a high number [of homicides] for Toronto, it’s a relatively low number not just Canada-wide but North America-wide especially,” Idsinga said.”It’s still a safe neighbourhood. It’s still a safe city.”

Susan Souter is the principal at the Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, which Campbell used to attend. Souter is accustomed to hearing about cases of gun violence in the area.

“These kinds of things are happening everywhere across the city,” Souter said.

“We’re moving on with what good can come out of this,” she added. “We’re going to be looking at the kinds of things we can do as a school to promote peace and not reflect on the violence.

“We want to promote it in the larger community and the city.”

A shrine has been set up in the school’s foyer to pay tribute to the bright teen. In the book of condolences, one message reads, “Keyon, I do not know the dignity of your birth but I do know the glory of your death.”

Perhaps for at least this one person, Keyon Campbell’s name will never be reduced to a statistic.