Scarborough residents reluctant to talk about shooting

A walk for peace was held in the area where 25 people were shot, but some residents in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Toronto say they're scared to talk with police about what they know.
Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, were the two young people killed in Monday night's Scarborough shooting. (Twitter)

A walk for peace was held Wednesday in the Scarborough neighbourhood where 25 people were shot on Monday night, but some residents in the area say talking about what happened with police is something else altogether.

The walk took place in the east-end Toronto neighbourhood where Joshua Yasay, 23, and Shyanne Charles, 14, were killed at a street party attended by more than 100 people. Police have yet to make an arrest.

Dozens of people, many of them women and their children, walked to reclaim the neighbourhood, chanting for peace and at one point taking a pledge to take a stand and make a difference. The need to rally the community to come forward has become a common topic since the shooting.

Neighbourhood resident Susan Fullerton said people are reluctant to come forward.

'What does doing right get the rest of us?'—Neighbourhood resident

"The first thing the police would have to do is tell the people how they're going to help them after they talk," she said.

"If the police is going to give people some major guarantee that you are going to be protected and what you say to me will stay here or whatever, quite likely people will talk. But I think that black people feel to a large extent nobody cares."

Scarborough residents on a walk for peace make a pledge to take a stand and make a difference. (Ivy Cuervo/CBC)

One woman who didn't want to be identified asked, "What does doing right get the rest of us?"

"What's another black kid being buried?" she said. "You guys may not say it, but a lot of people feel it."

One man said: "I've seen what happened in my old area. People were killed for that stuff, for talking to reporters and police and stuff like that."

Grandfather pleads for information

The concern from residents comes as Shyanne Charles's grandfather pleads for anyone with information to come forward.

"No more hiding, no more secrecy. What you know, let it come forward so my granddaughter's death won't have to be in vain," Tyrone Charles said at a Tuesday evening vigil at the home where Shyanne lived.

The 14-year-old girl was killed along with Yasay, of Ajax, Ont., after police say a dispute between two individuals at a crowded block party erupted into gunfire.

Charles said it was time to take a stand.

"Save other kids like her from the same gun violence," he said. "Us, parents in the community, we could do more."

Conservative Senator Don Meredith had similar comments on Wednesday.

If people don't speak up, "we empower the criminals in this neighbourhood and other neighbourhoods across the city," he said. "So they want to take back their communities, they have to come out en masse and say, 'We will not tolerate this. We will not stand for guns on our streets, we will not stand for you coming and shooting up our neighbourhood.' "

Officers are investigating whether gangs were involved in the shooting and warned there is a potential for retaliatory violence.

Police have said more than one weapon was used and a gun was recovered from the scene. 

There was still a heavy police presence at the site on Wednesday, with a forensics team investigating inside a home where the party started, and dogs from the canine unit checking for gun residue outside.

Tuesday evening vigil

Hundreds attended a vigil Tuesday evening as mourners, some carrying candles or flowers, sang and cried together. One of the Shyanne's friends, Natasha Wong, described her as a nice, outgoing girl.

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"Now that she's gone, it's hard to believe," she said.

Jam Johnson, a youth worker who runs a local basketball program, said Wednesday that Charles used to help him out.

"Why her particularly?," he said. "Only God knows the answers to that. Maybe it’s a wake-up call for everybody."

Yasay was working for a security company and had recently graduated with an honours bachelor of arts in criminology from York University.

He also coached basketball and had volunteered with the Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto for two years.

For his family, it was still too early to speak about the crime and their loss.

"We're dealing now with funeral arrangements," said his older sister, Jennilyn Yasay. "We haven't even seen Joshua yet…It's still fresh right now."

Jennilyn Yasay said the family was still waiting to see her brother's body, which is being kept at the chief coroner's office in Toronto.

The surviving victims ranged in age from a 22-month-old toddler, who received a "grazing injury," to a 33-year-old man, police have said. CBC News has learned that the 22-month-old is now home and is feeling better.

The brazen attack comes in the wake of a number of other high-profile shootings, including one at Toronto's Eaton Centre that left two people dead.

And on Tuesday night, Toronto police were investigating another shooting death in the city's west end. A man in his 40s was shot and killed in a parking lot.

With files from The Canadian Press