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Five years later, a look back at the deadly Danzig shooting

Last Updated Jul 17, 2017 at 7:49 am EDT

A wild shootout in a crowd of 200 people – a crowd that included small children – remains one of the worst nights of gun violence Toronto has ever seen.

Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, were killed and 22 others were injured at the barbecue, which was held at a housing complex near Morningside Avenue and Danzig Street on July 16, 2012.

Five years later, survivor Angie Hutchinson told CityNews reporter Avery Haines that she was affected by the shooting for years. Loud noises remained frightening long after that night was over.

“It was something out of a movie. Everybody was crying … I started seeing bodies just dropping, just dropping,” she said.

Hutchinson, who was shot in the leg, went to the barbecue with two other friends. They were also shot. “I kept thinking, ‘Why me? Why is this happening to me?'”

“Then I turned [that thought[ around: this is happening to me for a reason.”

Since that night, she has dedicated her life to helping others, working at group homes and shelters. She has started her own non-profit organization for girls, and is an advocate for seniors.

Here’s a look back at that July night, and what happened after.

July 16, 2012: Gunfire erupts at a community barbecue in Scarborough. It is the result of gang violence, but neither Charles nor Yasay were involved in gangs.

“This is not only unprecedented in Toronto,” former Toronto police chief Bill Blair said at the time. “This is the worst incident of gun violence in my memory.”

The brazen shooting followed weeks of gun violence in Toronto, including shootings at the Eaton Centre, a Little Italy café and after a massive Canada Day fireworks display at Ashbridges Bay.

Sept. 11, 2012: Toronto police say the shooting is the result of a turf war between the Galloway Boys and the Malvern Crew. One Galloway gang member used social media to claim the Danzig party as his own and offered free cognac.

Gang members started conducting so-called G-checks – confronting people to find out where they’re from. They asked people from Malvern to leave the party, who later returned with friends and a second confrontation ended in the shootout that killed innocent bystanders.

That feud is decades-old, a former police officer told CityNews.

Sept. 13, 2012: Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair holds a town hall meeting in the Danzig neighbourhood.

Nov. 8, 2012: Shaquan “Bam Bam” Mesquito is charged with 27 offences, including two counts of first-degree murder. He was later found not to have been at the barbecue at the time of the shooting.

Nov. 28, 2012: The CEO of Desicon Group donates $150,000 to support resident-developed initiatives, including creating a safe space for children.

March 20, 2013: Drake raps about the Danzig shooting in a track from Snoop Dogg.

July 4, 2013: During his tenure as a deputy police chief, Peter Sloly gave a revealing interview with CityNews reporter Avery Haines about the mass shooting at the Danzig Street barbecue.

July 16, 2013: One year to the day after the fatal shooting, the neighbourhood marked the sombre anniversary.

April 11, 2014: Nahom Tsegazab pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. During sentencing, Justice John McMahon said Tsegazab was a party to the shooting but the Crown couldn’t prove whether it was his bullets that killed Charles and Yasay. Both the Crown and defence had asked for a 14-year prison term.

“He participated in the gun fight and encouraged others to shoot,” McMahon said.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Tsegazab was shot twice at the barbecue. As the shooter fled, Tsegazab drew his gun and fired 11 rounds at the gunman who retreated into the crowd.

July 16, 2014: Two years after the shooting, the Danzig community honoured the victims at a barbecue. White balloons were released into the air.

Jan. 23, 2015: Two first-degree murder charges are dropped against Shaquan Mesquito, one of the men accused in the shooting. Mesquito took to social media at the time, taking credit for the shooting. Video surveillance later showed he was nowhere near the shooting at the time it happened.

He pleaded guilty to other charges, including counselling to murder and uttering a threat to a person to cause bodily harm, and was sentenced to nine years less time served.

May 27, 2015: A team of paramedics were honoured for their actions during the Danzig shooting.

March 17, 2016: A 21-year-old man, later identified as Folorunso Owusu, is convicted of second-degree murder. He was 17 at the time of the Danzig shooting, and his identity was protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Nov. 25, 2016: Owusu apologizes in court as families of the victims read emotional victim impact statements. Yasay’s eight-year-old brother submitted this heartbreaking drawing.

The eight-year-old brother of murder victim Joshua Yasay submitted this heartbreaking drawing at sentencing hearing on Nov. 25, 2016. CITYNEWS
The eight-year-old brother of murder victim Joshua Yasay submitted this heartbreaking drawing at sentencing hearing on Nov. 25, 2016. CITYNEWS

 

Dec. 7, 2016: Owusu is sentenced as an adult and his name is released in court. He will serve a life sentence and will not be eligible for parole for seven years, Justice Ian Nordheimer rules. Owusu maintained throughout the trial that he didn’t fire his gun.