Gun violence skyrocketed in summer

Recent firearm related crimes over the summer indicate the problem is still a serious one in east Scarborough, officials say.

Among the incidents was the shooting of Shazad Khawaja, 17, killed outside of his apartment at 90 Mornelle Crt., near Ellesmere Road and Morningside Avenue, on Jul. 17.

Waheed and Naila Khawaja, parents of Shazad, have felt insecure living in the same neighbourhood.

“It is painful for us to stay in the same apartment because my wife always goes to the place where my son was shot,” Waheed said.

“She became sick after his death and I also often go to see the therapist. We have to move out as soon as possible.

“If we could, the situation will be much better for sure.”

While a 25-year-old man of Toronto was arrested with first-degree murder, the investigation is still ongoing in search of other possible suspects.

The number of gun related crimes including shootings, robbery and home invasion happen in east Scarborough from May to Sept.Several other firearm-related crimes have occurred over the summer due to widespread gang and drug related activity in Scarborough.

* Shammal Ramsey, 18, was shot near the corner of Sewells Road and McLevin Avenue. Having suffered numerous gunshot wounds, he was pronounced dead at about 10:30 a.m on May 28.

* Andre Williams, 22, was shot in the neck and legs outside 80 Mornelle Crt. around 7 p.m. on July 12. It was reported he will be paralyzed from the neck down.

* Michael Watson, 28, was shot in the head and killed at a nightclub in a shopping plaza on Rylander Boulevard, near Kingston Road and Highway 401 around 1 a.m. on July 19.

* Caxtons Kyeremeh, 19, was shot in the head and found dead on the lawn at Bon Echo Court, near Neilson Road and Finch Avenue before 7 a.m. on Aug. 26.

* A boy, 16, was shot in the chest at 200 Brenyon Way, near Neilson Road and Sewells Road on Sept. 4 at night. He is now recovering without life-threatening injuries.

“You can’t prevent every crime because there is a nightclub out there,” Councillor Ron Moeser of Ward 44 said, in relation to repeated crimes on Rylander Boulevard.

“People are coming from other areas, causing trouble and so forth. It’s something we have to deal with.”

Moeser says the concentration of social project housing in certain areas has been cited as related to the number of crimes. Both personal safety and building security are problems and residents say they feel helpless in improving their present condition.

In the Khawajas’ case, two months after applying for a move with the Metro Toronto Housing Authority, they still have yet to receive a response.

“We applied to move to another place in Scarborough, hopefully close to Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue. But right now, there is nothing I can do. It is hopeless,” Waheed said.

Moeser says during the past few years the Malvern and Kingston-Galloway communities have been considered high-risk areas for gun related crimes.

Toronto will be implementing a Preventing Youth Gang Activity pilot project. It will run for the next three and a half years, with $4.9 million being used to increase community awareness and implementing income, educational and family supports.

Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie says despite financial support, they won’t be able to prevent crime and drug related activities completely.

“We can, though, give the youth of our society alternatives from trying to get ‘easy’ money through crime and drugs, while helping respect the neighborhoods that they live in,” Ainslie said.

“It is important to find meaningful programs for youth to be involved in close to where they live,” he added.

(With files from Joseph Taylor)