The victim of a Toronto murder had Windsor connections, and that has some in the city concerned about gang violence.

Asian gang member Michael Nguyen was fatally wounded when he was shot several times in the parking lot of a Toronto Mall.

The 23-year-old Nguyen served time at Windsor Jail for home invasion as a teenager.

"We have the presence of gang members in this city from outside our jurisdiction that come and ply their trade and their trade is the drug trade," according to Windsor police investigation superintendent, John St. Louis.

As was the case with Nguyen, gang members are constantly moving through areas where they may not be known to police, St. Louis said.

While Windsor does have "gang members" walking its streets, gangs are predominantly based in larger centres such as Toronto, according to Staff Sgt. Pam Mizuno.

St. Louis added that gang activity involving anything from drugs to home invasions comes in "cycles" for that very reason. 

Windsor lawyer Frank Miller defended Ngyuyen when he was charged with home invasion. 

"He was actually quite intelligent and wise beyond his years," according to Miller, who described Nguyen's death as tragic.

"The young man had a great deal of potential to make something of himself if he chose to follow a positive track," said Miller.

Sandwich Teen Action Group (STAG) coordinator John Elliot has seen kids like Nguyen fall through the cracks.

Elliot can’t say whether or not gang violence is on the rise in Windsor, but he’s been fighting a culture of urban violence since 1993.  STAG is designed to keep teens engaged.

"If kids don’t have a place to go to they’re just hanging out on the streets," he said. "Sometimes they’re not causing trouble, but in the world we live in, trouble finds them."

The centre Elliot works at is in the heart of west Windsor and provides teens with activities ranging from boxing, to cooking lessons.

"They can come play basketball, watch T.V., have something to eat," said Elliott. "They can come here after school and know that when they come through that door everything is neutral, and they are safe."

Ziad Al-Hamrany said idle time is something he knows all too well and STAG helped him turn his life around.

"I got in a little bit of trouble here and there, but I’ve always managed to pull myself back up," said the 18 year old. "I think that’s where John (Elliott) shines – he brings the gentleman out of you – even kids like us. I wouldn’t be standing here, life is crazy."

Noel Hamm-Everington is involved in a skills training program at STAG with Al-Hamrany.

"When I was 13, I was a gang banger, did whatever I want. Go around Toronto subway streets taking whatever I wanted," said Hamm-Everington, who is now 19 years old.

Al-Hamrany said he and several other STAG members traded a life of violence and crime for a skill and a future.

"The fact that you know we're here at the STAG and the government gave us an opportunity to shine and show ourselves like that it's a blessing."

Windsor police say the city isn't a hub for Canadian gangs.  But according to Elliott, teens like Al-Hamrany can still get into trouble with the law.  He said organizations like STAG can provide guidance and help keep kids off the streets.