Candlelight walk held Thursday night in honour of teen fatally stabbed at TTC station

Hundreds gather for a candlelight walk for 16 year old Gabriel  Magalhaes who was killed in an unprovoked attack at Keele subway station over the weekend. Melissa Nakhavoly reports.

By Lucas Casaletto and John Marchesan

Hundreds of friends, family and strangers came out in solidarity Thursday night to mourn and remember 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes who was killed in an unprovoked attack at a subway station last weekend.

The teen’s mother carried a bouquet of white flowers and a candle and held her husband’s hand as they walked from the High Park north gates along Bloor Street to Keele subway station, where Magalhaes was stabbed.

“I feel so much love,” Andrea Magalhaes, the teen’s mother, said as she thanked those who attended the vigil.

The event was organized by Magalhaes’ former classmates from Keele Street Public School, who have described the boy as a lovely friend, student and neighbour who touched many lives.

“I’m just like speechless. I don’t feel safe anymore around others as well. I just feel genuinely shocked, I don’t know how to react,” said one of those who turned out in support of the family.

Shayam Eslampour-Maraghi, who knew Magalhaes from middle school, said he came to the candlelight walk to pay his respects to him and to his family.

“He was one of those kids who are like, I could never see myself ever disliking him. He was just a guy that you could tell anything to, never fight with,” he said. “He was just someone that anyone can be friends with.”

Co-workers of Andrea Magalhaes, who is a nurse at the Mount Sinai Hospital, also attended the candlelight walk, including Melissa Blow who said she has organized a fundraiser to support the mourning mother.

“No mother should have to bury her child and have to fork out the expense for that either,” she said.

“It is not supposed to be like this. He is a 16-year-old kid just trying to go out and spend time with his friends on a Saturday night.”

Police said Magalhaes was sitting on a bench at the station when he was approached and attacked. A 22-year-old man of no fixed address was later arrested and charged with one count of first-degree murder.

Court documents from Newfoundland and Labrador provincial court show Jordan O’Brien-Tobin, 22, is wanted on an outstanding warrant for breaching probation conditions. The warrant issued on April 15, 2021, in St. John’s, remains active and says O’Brien-Tobin’s last known address was in east Toronto.

Gabriel’s mother has called in media interviews for more mental health and social supports to be introduced to tackle the root causes of violence.

Ford calls for more police patrols of transit system

Premier Doug Ford reiterated Thursday he wanted to see more police patrolling Toronto’s transit system.

Asked whether the city could use provincial funds earmarked for guns and gangs to assign more officers to the Toronto Transit Commission, Ford said it would be up to the Toronto police board.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before – all these tragedies happening, but it has to stop,” the premier said, speaking at an unrelated press conference in Hamilton on Thursday.

“The way it stops and the way you pick up ridership is by making sure we have a safe transit system in Toronto and the way we have a safe transit system is our Toronto police working with our transit police and boots on the ground.”

The teen’s death came as the TTC has been dealing with a series of high-profile cases of violence.

On Wednesday, a fight broke out on a subway, with another woman wanted in separate assaults dating back to December.

There was also an alleged hate crime on an eastbound subway train that involved one person being approached by a man who yelled anti-2SLGBTQ+ remarks at them. The man then pushed them, causing an injury to their leg.

Toronto police put more than 80 officers working overtime on patrol in the TTC in late January in response to a spate of violence in the system, but ended those shifts two weeks ago. Police said they were returning to deploying on-duty officers on the TTC for regular, proactive patrols.

Files from The Canadian Press and Melissa Nakhavoly were used in this report

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