Father of young Dixon shooting victim says he was shot at just hours before son's funeral
After the death of the 2nd young man in under a week, Dixon is a neighbourhood on edge
Less than one week after 16-year-old Zakariye Ali was killed in a hail of bullets in a north Etobicoke parking lot, the boy's father has told CBC Toronto he was shot at in the early hours of Friday morning — and managed to escape unhurt.
Just hours before family and friends gathered to lay the young teen to rest Friday, Ali's father says he was among a group of people walking on a path when they were fired on.
Toronto police say they were called to the scene in the Morecambe Gate and Chester Le Boulevard area around 1:20 a.m. Friday for multiple reports of gunfire. Callers reported hearing four to five shots but no one was injured.
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Police have not identified who was shot at, nor have they said whether the group was targeted. They also haven't confirmed if they are investigating any possible connection between the gunshots Friday morning and Ali's death.
'I come here only sharing pain'
But outside the funeral where Ali was being remembered — guarded by a heavy police presence — the concern was palpable.
"I don't think everybody feels safe right now," said one woman who CBC Toronto agreed not to identify out of fear for her safety. "Because if they went to his house and shot at his house, we're not sure if they're going to come after —" she interrupted herself, "I know most likely they won't but it's better to be safe than sorry."
Ayan Abbdow didn't know Ali personally, but was one of those who turned out Friday to mourn yet another young life lost to violence in the neighbourhood. It's a pain she knows firsthand. Abbdow's own son, Saed, was killed in the same neighbourhood in 2016.
"I come here only sharing pain," Abbdow said outside the funeral. "We don't know each other, but we are the same community."
"I'm a mother; I feel pain when the young boy died ... Any kids, not only Somali kids, every nationality, we don't have to die like this."
Ali died after being shot in the parking lot of the Kingsview Village Junior School in the Dixon Road and Islington Avenue area around 11:40 p.m. Sunday. Officers arrived to find the young teen unconscious, suffering from a gunshot wound.
Minister commits to meeting with Dixon youth
Two other victims, located nearby, also suffered bullet wounds. Shortly after being rushed to hospital, Ali was pronounced dead.
Ali's death marks the second fatal shooting of a young man in the Dixon and Islington area in under a week — the other being the brazen daylight shooting of father-to-be Abdulkadir Bihi, 29.
On Thursday, frustrated members of the Somali-Canadian community came together to demand an end to the violence and call on Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Couteau to visit the area, which many community members say are lacking in services for youth.
On Friday, Couteau committed to meeting with "anyone" from the Dixon community to explore possible avenues to reduce violence in the community, including young people themselves.
"I need them to know that I have their back. They're a community that I love and they make up a great part of what makes this city beautiful."
That's something at least some members of the neighbourhood are counting on.
"You know, when it's a funeral, everyone comes together, everybody's united. Everybody's crying, they all hug each other and they talk about the situation. And after that, that's it, there's no follow up," said one woman with two young children outside Ali's funeral. "Since 2010, we've been burying."
"That's one thing the Somali community needs is they need action — not just talk. We've talked for so long, the talk has to stop."