Man shot dead was acquitted in killing
Three homicides on the weekend
'This is getting nuts,' officer says
By Peter EDWARDS, Staff Reporter
A Brampton man acquitted of second-degree murder only days ago was shot dead Saturday in what Toronto police are calling an execution. The man was one of three weekend homicide victims, unrelated killings that have left Toronto police reeling.
While the killings had nothing to do with each other, police said two were gang-related, and Superintendent Ron TAVERNER said romantic notions of drugs, guns and gangs played a part. "This isn't glamorous and this isn't Hollywood," TAVERNER said. "It's very sad." The weekend deaths include: Adrian Roy BAPTISTE, 21, of Brampton, who was shot in what police called "a planned execution" behind a townhouse complex on Lightwood Dr., in the Albion-Kipling Rds. area, around 3 p.m. Saturday.
Walter Trevor "Bling" STEWART, 28, who police are calling a known drug dealer, was hit with several gunshots around 4:50 a.m. Saturday when a gunman sprayed a highrise in the midtown Parliament and Wellesley Sts. area.
Christina SIKHDEO, 19, was found dead in a conservation area shortly after noon yesterday, five days after she disappeared from her Etobicoke home. A man who had a relationship with the victim, Toronto's 65th homicide victim of 2003, was taken into custody by police shortly before the body was found.
A non-fatal shooting last night capped the weekend of violence. Police said a 16-year-old male was shot in the chest about 9:15 p.m. outside a townhouse complex on Pittsboro Dr., in the Albion Rd. and Finch Ave. area of Etobicoke, not far from the scene of BAPTISTE's shooting Saturday.
He was rushed, conscious and breathing, to Sunnybrook hospital with what were believed to be non-life-threatening injuries."My people were just ready to go home after working on the body of (Christina SIKHDEO) found up this way when this happened," said a sergeant with the police community-oriented response unit. "This is getting nuts." Police, who have no suspects in the latest incident, said two or three young men were seen running from the scene of the shooting.
TAVERNER said the victim was visiting from Ottawa and was standing outside with a group of teens when another group of young men approached. Up to seven shots were fired during the encounter, said TAVERNER, who noted one of the bullets struck the victim near the heart. "Bullets were bouncing off of walls and fences," TAVERNER said. "This is really scary." In the Rexdale homicide, BAPTISTE -- a member of the Rexdale Bloods street gang -- was killed behind the Lightwood Dr. townhouse complex. A hooded man with a pistol leaned into the car in which BAPTISTE was riding and shot him several times. "It was absolutely a planned homicide," TAVERNER said. BAPTISTE's death came just eight days after he was released from custody in Hamilton after he and Jahmar Reuben WELSH, 21, were acquitted of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting through the heart of Desmon MINGO of Hamilton on February 19, 2002.
Their defence team argued in court that MINGO fired first when BAPTISTE and WELSH went to the east end of Hamilton to sell counterfeit money. TAVERNER wouldn't comment yesterday on whether he thought WELSH should also fear for his life. "There's always concern for everyone, but again we don't know the motive for the (BAPTISTE) shooting," TAVERNER said.
"Our investigators have been to Hamilton. We're looking at some things there.... Whether this is a revenge killing or whether there's another motive, obviously right now we don't know." In Hamilton, Desmon MINGO's grandmother, Gwen, said yesterday that she felt badly for BAPTISTE's family, but she had cooler words for the homicide victim.
"My sympathies goes out to his mother and his family," Gwen MINGO said. "As mothers we bring sons into the world and hope for the best."
However, when asked about BAPTISTE, she replied: "Adrian lived the life. They say so how you live, so how you die.... I feel for the family but I have mixed feelings about Adrian. I don't know how I feel yet." She said she went to visit her grandson's grave on Christmas Day and found a card lying in front of it.
It said -- according to her -- "Deepest Sympathies" on the envelope and inside there was a message that read: "Yo Desmon, we beat the rap. You sucker." She added that the family is still "devastated" about MINGO's murder and the trial's result. Detective Mike THOMAS of Hamilton police said Toronto police contacted the Hamilton force yesterday about the case, and that the retaliation angle is "an obvious angle to follow up." THOMAS said police had arranged to pick up the card from Gwen MINGO last night. Just last week Toronto police Chief Julian FANTINO, noting Toronto had 73 active street gangs, called on Prime Minister Paul MARTIN for assistance in fashioning legislation that would give police an effective tool to combat gang warfare.
BAPTISTE made his way to Etobicoke General Hospital. Police officers called to the area in response to a 911 call about someone firing a gun quickly found the victim in the hospital. He was later rushed to Sunnybrook hospital for surgery but died of his injuries. Police have impounded the car in which he was riding. A Rexdale mother who parks her car in the same area where BAPTISTE was slain said the killing has left her young family shaken.
Her 9- and 12-year-old children are scared to go behind their townhouse in the parking lot where the killing took place, even in broad daylight. "They tell me they're afraid to go out there any more," said the mother, who also has a 2-month-old child.
The mother said she arrived at her home 20 minutes after the shooting, and might have been there at the same time, had she not decided at the last minute to stop for some grocery shopping on her way home. "It's not a very pleasant feeling," said the mother, who asked that her name not be used. An elderly man who also lives in the townhouse complex walked to the police tape roping off the homicide scene to stare in disbelief.
"It's crazy," he said. "Sure, it makes me nervous." Referring to Saturday's other shooting, TAVERNER described the slaying of STEWART as part of a gang subculture.
"We're talking here about people who have been involved with the police in the past," he said, "people who are involved with drugs, gangs and guns." STEWART, who was shot dead in midtown Toronto early Saturday, had the street name of "Bling" and was a known drug dealer, Detective Joel KULMATYCKI of the homicide squad said yesterday. Shortly before he died, STEWART gave a statement to police, KULMATYCKI said. "I won't disclose what that statement was, but it's interesting," he said. The gunman fired more than six times as STEWART attempted to flee and not all the shots hit him, although he had several gunshot wounds, KULMATYCKI said.
It's lucky that an innocent bystander wasn't killed, KULMATYCKI said, noting that a stray bullet in a gang attack killed bystander Derek YAN, 40, in his Scarborough townhouse last month. "That certainly could have been the case here," KULMATYCKI said. An 18-year-old youth who knew WILLIAMS was also injured in the Saturday morning attack but isn't in life-threatening condition, KULMATYCKI said.
He said that there has been good co-operation from people in the neighbourhood, and that STEWART didn't live there. "Mr. STEWART was down there to deal drugs," KULMATYCKI said. "There's no sense sugar-coating it." with files from Josh BROWN