Canada 2007 "Year of the Assassins"
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
Vancouver and Toronto are having a Banner Year in 2007 in what amounts to the "Year of the Assassin", rivalling our 2010 Olympic Status as the best country to live in . Canada is not some war strifed country, where gangland assassinations are fairly common and people are anestithised to these daily occurences. Canada is touted as a civilized country, we are supposed to be different. Our inability to see the big Crime picture in our quest for Nancy Style Political correctness and Catch and Release Mantra's by our Justice system failure over criminals to implement "Serious Time for these Crimes" certainly makes us seem complacent and hence deserving title the "Year of the Assassin" moniker we should all be ashamed of, but apparently are NOT!.
During one of Toronto's bloodiest weekends this past November, Kennado "Weezy" Walker was executed and "left to die on the cold cement floor" of an underground garage at an east-end apartment building.
The 25-year-old drug and gun dealer, in the parlance of police crime blotters, perished from a "penetrating gunshot wound to the head." No stranger to police or this city's violent gang culture, Walker earlier that evening had cold-bloodedly murdered a rival, 19-year-old Ryan Hyde, ambushing the younger man while he waited for pizza in his car at an icy strip mall parking lot.
While Toronto's murder tally this past year pushed close to the record of 89 in 1991 and surpassed the killing spree registered during this city's notorious Summer of the Gun, police are using a new term to describe 2007 -- the year of the "assassins."
Victims have been stalked before and drive-by shootings have claimed dozens of lives, but detectives who specialize in death and perpetrators concluded at least 12 of this year's victims were slain up close and personal, Sun Media has learned.
Shot gang-style in the head or in the chest, the doomed dozen were all stalked, Staff-Insp. Brian Raybould, the Toronto Police homicide boss, told Sun Media.
"Groups firing at each other are one thing," he said.
But deliberately pre-planning and executing a victim "is a whole different level of viciousness," Raybould said. "It's a lot more personal." Unlike shootings in which killers take advantage of a victim being alone or in a crowd -- which has left several innocent victims dead or wounded -- police say assassinations are rare in real life, but bear the mark of copycatting from TV, films and video games.
"This is a very new level for Toronto," Raybould said.
Such killings are almost always gang related, he said. They shoot each other to protect their turf ... and it's usually about drugs." In many cases, both the victims and the killers are black, Raybould said, frustrated and weary of issuing the same warnings year after year.
"Young black men are killing young black men at an alarming rate," he said. "How many times do you say it!"
Police say the big reason for the switch to execution-style slayings is a belief in anonymity.
And clampdowns by the Gun and Gang Task Force and border security has pushed up the price of bullets, so using just one saves money.
"It's also possible people want to attain the level of notoriety of being able to walk up to a person and shoot them in the head," Raybould said.
POLICE NEED HELP
He added that even though such murders "are difficult, I count on members of communities affected to come forward and assist us." Police sometimes get help from unusual places, such as a thug who fears his leader may put him next on the list for some personal attention.
In the most unusual 2007 case, Det. Wayne Fowler believes millionaire globe-trotting sports and wildlife supporter Glen Davis was targeted and shot May 14 in an underground parking garage after lunching with a friend.
His wallet and other valuables were missing, but Fowler believes that may have been a coverup.
Though Davis, 66, survived a beating attack in 2005, his killer's motive is a mystery.
Fowler is convinced a surveillance recording of a man walking in and out of the parking garage where Davis was shot is the murderer -- a clean-shaven 5-foot-8 white smoker in his mid-20s to early 30s, who altered his clothes and avoided looking up.
And he may be an out-of-towner, he said. "We're still getting tips, but most are not from Toronto." Davis, who "didn't show that he had money," recently drove back from his summer home in Arizona, Fowler said.
Dividing his life between work, family and environmental causes, the philanthropist "had a close circle" of friends and a private life with his wife of over 40 years, he said. "He didn't want the attention but he wasn't a hermit, either." With some exceptions, many assassination victims were tied to street gangs or fell afoul of them. Examples:
* Well-known to police, Eric Boateng, 21, was shot Oct. 21 after visiting an inmate in the Don Jail. Arrested after the Boxing Day 2005 shooting death of shopper Jane Creba, 15, and wounding of six others in a gang shootout on Yonge St., police later declared him not a suspect or a witness.
CASE OF REVENGE
- In the most obvious case of revenge, police believe a friend of slain drug dealer Ryan Hyde, 19, chased down his killer, Kennado Walker, 25, and executed the rival dealer seven hours later on Nov. 23.
- In another obvious case, Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux said Fitawrari Lunan, 25, was "hunted down like an animal" on Dec. 14 after taking refuge in the Malvern-area townhouse of a recent acquaintance.
One of the biggest puzzles is that the gunman and his accomplice behaved like bloodhounds, somehow tracking Lunan to his hideout in an area of Scarborough where walls of fear built by gangs have existed for years.