Toronto

'We're tired of losing young people': Toronto's 1st homicide victim of 2020 mourned in Regent Park

Dozens gathered in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood Saturday night to remember a 21-year-old who became the city's first homicide victim of the year after a double shooting on New Year's Day.

Ahmed Yakot remembered as 'vibrant' member of community, whose loss has left neighbourhood reeling

Dozens gathered in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood Saturday night to remember a 21-year-old who became the city's first homicide victim of the year after a double shooting on New Year's Day. (Christopher Langenzarde/CBC)

Dozens gathered in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood Saturday night to remember a 21-year-old who became the city's first homicide victim of the year after a double shooting on New Year's Day.

Ahmed Yakot was a "vibrant member of the youth community" whose loss came as a big surprise to the neighbourhood, Coun. Kristyn-Wong Tam said. "I think people are just reeling from the pain."

Around 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, emergency crews were called to the area of Oak and River streets for the sound of gunshots. Yakot and another 21-year-old were in a vehicle when a dark-coloured sedan pulled up with suspects opening fire before fleeing the scene.

Police arrived to find both men injured, one in life-threatening condition, the other with serious injuries. 

Yakot died in hospital overnight. 

'A community is deep in mourning'

Investigators believe a number of witnesses have not yet come forward and are reminding the public that tips can be left anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers. 

"Now a community is deep in mourning at the beginning of 2020," Wong-Tam said. 

Ahmed Yakot, 21, of Toronto, died of his injuries Thursday. (Toronto Police Service)

Community advocate Sureya Ibrahim is one of the organizers of Saturday's vigil. She said Yakot was the same age as one of her own children.

"We're tired of losing young people in the community," she said. "We are tired of going to funerals."

Indeed Wong-Tam said residents of the area say they are devastated by the toll of gun violence in the city, with an overwhelming proportion of victims being young black men.

Calls for more investment into city's youth

"We don't know the reason for the violence that just took place, that ended Ahmed's life … but at the end of the day if we don't deal with the root causes of violence, we're not going to be that much further ahead."

Tackling those causes means investing further in programs for young people, creating pathways to meaningful jobs and making available more affordable housing, Wong-Tam said.

Around 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, emergency crews were called to the area of Oak and River streets for the sound of gunshots. (Ali Chiasson/CBC)

Regent Park resident and community advocate Selwyn Pieters agreed, saying he wants to see the city invest the same dollar amounts that are being put toward policing into programs for young people so that they aren't forced to "find comfort in gangs, guns and drugs."

Pieters described Yakot as a young man with a lot of promise, whose life was cut short by "unacceptable" violence.

"It's important to come out here, stand on the ground where this young person was killed and send a message that this is not going to be tolerated in our community," he said. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators at 416-808-7400 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 416-222-8477.