Toronto

Danzig Street shooter sentenced as adult, gets life in prison

The man convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in the Danzig Street shooting more than four years ago has been sentenced as an adult to life in prison.

Folorunso Owusu, 21, was 17 at the time of the shooting; eligible for parole in 7 years

Folorunso Owusu, 21, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for his role in the Danzig Street shooting. (Canadian Press)

The man convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in the Danzig Street shooting more than four years ago has been sentenced as an adult to life in prison.

The shooter, whose identity had previously been protected under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 17 at the time of the shooting, can now be named. He is Folorunso Owusu.

On Wednesday morning, Owusu, now 21, was sentenced to life in prison. He is eligible for parole after seven years.

​Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, died in the shootout that broke out at a neighbourhood barbecue in Scarborough on July 16, 2012. More than 20 people were injured.

Charles's mother said she felt "relief" at the verdict, but said she hasn't been able to sleep since her daughter's death.

"That journey's been hard, long, painful," she told reporters. "Ever since my daughter passed away, July 16, I never slept. To see your daughter laying on the ground dead and there's nothing you can do is the worst pain a mother, a father can ever feel."

Jennilyn Yasay, meanwhile, said her brother "was an exceptional young man" who had graduated with honours from York University. He was hoping to become a police officer.

Of her brother's killer, she said: "He didn't care. He didn't have regard for anybody who was in his way."

After the verdict was handed down, one of the investigators of the shooting said he was "very pleased."

"This is the biggest mass shooting that we've had in this city," Det.-Sgt. Peter Trimble told reporters outside court. "So to have someone not be convicted as an adult, I don't think the public would stand for it."

'I have nightmares,' gunman says

In his own prepared statement to court during the sentencing hearing, Owusu apologized to the victims' families.

"I have nightmares ... I relive it every day ... I'm truly sorry for my role in the shooting," he said. "These past 48 months, I have had time to know I was wrong ... I want to help change lives for the better."

The families read victim impact statements of their own late last month.

Tyrone Charles, Shyanne's grandfather, told the shooter to aim to come out of custody a better person.

"My son, it's sad to see ... but I hope this time, whatever the judge decides to give you, you don't look at it like a punishment. You look at it as a second lease on life. Shyanne didn't get hers, Josh didn't get his ... You get yours, use it," he said.

Tyrone Charles said there "are no winners" after Wednesday's sentencing. (CBC)

On Wednesday, the elder Charles said "there are no winners" despite the verdict.

"Today is a sad chapter in the sense that we lost Shyanne and we lost Josh, and we are losing these guys who did this crime," he said. "So there are no winners."

During sentencing, Owusu's lawyer, Graham Zoppi, called his client a "poster child for rehabilitation." Zoppi said Owusu was involved in numerous programs at the corrections facility where he was being held, and staff there described him as "self-motivated, humorous, intelligent and eager to help others."

He had wanted his client to be sentenced as a youth because he was a youth at the time of the shooting.

Crown lawyer Simon Heeney argued during sentencing that the man had willingly carried a gun and fired the first shots at the party.

Heeney argued that the shooter was looking for a fight and knew that this could lead to injuries and death. No one would have been hurt if the shooter hadn't initiated the gunfight at the party, where attendees were "entitled to go without fear," he said.

In 2014, Nahom Tsegazab pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and six counts of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting. He was sentenced to 14 years, but with time served that became 11 years and five months.

Earlier this year, another man, Shaquan Mesquito, had two first-degree murder charges withdrawn and instead pleaded guilty to counselling to commit murder, possession of a firearm, breach of a prohibition order and uttering a threat.

Mesquito was sentenced to nine years in prison, which amounts to five years and three months with time spent in custody.

Another male, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, was charged with three firearm-related offences, as well as threatening death.

Trimble noted Wednesday that a fifth suspect remains at large who police believe is responsible for Charles's death.

"My daughter was only 14," her mother said Wednesday. "She didn't deserve to die like that. And I want him to come forward. You know who you are, you know what you did."

With files from Nicholas Boisvert

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