Hundreds attend funeral of girl killed in Toronto mass shooting
Shyanne Charles, 14, remembered as generous person, good student
More than 300 people made their way to a Toronto funeral home Saturday morning to say goodbye to Shyanne Charles, the 14-year-old girl killed in a mass shooting at a community party in the city's east end last week.
Charles, 14, was killed along with Joshua Yasay, 23, when a hail of bullets flew at the community event on July 16.
Twenty-three people were injured by gunfire.
The Highland Funeral Home was filled to capacity Saturday, with some travelling from as far away as New York City and Montreal. The overflow of people stood outside listening to the service on loudspeakers.
Charles, who had recently graduated from Grade 8, was a teenager who lived in the Danzig Street area. Friends have described her as a generous person, a good student and a role model.
Her grandfather, Tyrone Charles, said outside the funeral home that the service was one of remembrance, and visitors were wearing white to symbolize Shyanne's innocence and purity.
"Today is not a sad day for us, today is one of the more better days we've had because today was about upliftment, closure, peace, happiness, love — all of these things. So, no tears," he said.
Pastor Tyrone Haynes presided over the funeral, where mourners were asked to remember Shyanne with songs, poetry and thoughts through an open microphone.
"She was a beautiful little girl and she was amazing," said 15-year-old Teianna Polera, who attended West Hill Collegiate high school with Shyanne. "She had so much for her going in life and she really wanted to go somewhere. [They] took everything away from her, but they'll never truly, permanently take her away from us."
'It's too much pain'
Many who came had never met Charles.
Marilyn Ortega, whose son Ruddin Dexter Greaves was killed in a shooting in north Toronto 15 years ago, said she was there on behalf of United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere.
"I know what the whole family is going through. That's why I'm here to support. If there's anything that we can do as a group...I'm willing to do that. Because this is really overbearing. It's too much pain."
Enriquita Mamaril, who was shot during the violence that killed Charles, said she's still feeling the effects, both emotionally and physically.
"There's still an infection in there," she said. "The bullet went in my back and went out my side. I'm still kind of weak. When I hear a noise, I feel like there's another shooting. I don't sleep that good."
Despite the shooting, the neighbourhood is still one of the best in the city, she said.
"There is nothing wrong in that area, honest to God," said Mamaril. "We're all like one family. Maybe we're not so rich but we're all one."
At a visitation Friday evening, Tyrone Charles handed out white T-shirts with Charles's picture on them, and mourners were encouraged to sign her white casket.
Elaine Francis said she wrote, "Rest in peace, and we'll see you in the morning."
Media were not allowed inside the visitation, but people who attended said a video was shown of Charles singing.
Great uncle Robert Marechean, who drove to Toronto on Friday from New York City, said he only met her once.
"My only wish is that [she] will be an inspiration to the youth," he said. "Just throw those guns away."
The shooting on Danzig Street in Scarborough was the worst incident in a spate of gun violence that has rocked Toronto in the past two months.
One of the people who was shot at the barbecue has been charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, but police have not charged anyone in the two shooting deaths.
On Thursday, Toronto police unveiled a $2-million plan to make hundreds of extra officers available for daily deployment during August and lasting until high school resumes in September.