'Whoever did this has broken a community': Friends remember Hamilton man shot in 'random attack'

Friends of a 33-year-old Hamilton man killed in what police have called a "random attack" in Toronto are mourning their friend, remembering him as a go-getter DJ and father who was loyal and hard-working.

Leonard Pinnock grew up in Hamilton and had a young daughter.

Pinnock went by DJ Champ Juve and played a popular Thursday night gig at Sam's Tavern on Parkdale Avenue North in Hamilton. Friends said they expect to celebrate his life during that regular slot this Thursday. And a memorial is being planned for Friday, May 5, according to an online fundraising pagefor Pinnock's daughter.

"The world needs to know this makes no sense for the person that he is," said a friend who grew up with Pinnock and who asked to be identified as Roxy C.

He loved his music, he loved his daughter and he was a family guy. He was a working guy, a father, really hands-on," she said. "Whoever did this has broken a community."

A GoFundMe set up for Pinnock's daughter had raised nearly $5,000 as of Monday morning.

Apparent 'random attack'

Det.-Sgt. Joyce Schertzer, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, told reporters that the shooting on Friday night appears to be a "random attack."

She said Pinnock was in his vehicle waiting for a friend in the parking lot at a strip mall near Dufferin Street and Bowie Avenue, north of Eglinton Avenue West, when the shooting occurred. Police received a call about the incident at 9:30 p.m.

Schertzer said a police cruiser was in the area and officers responded quickly to the call.

On Friday night, police said they found Pinnock, without vital signs, suffering from gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

'He loved making people dance and happy'

Andrel Jack, a friend and mentor to Pinnock in the DJ world, said Pinnock got some new equipment for DJing on Friday.

"I talked with him. He was really happy," Jack said. "We planned some stuff we were going to do this year."

Jack said Pinnock pursued his passion voraciously.

"He loved making music, he loved DJing, he loved making people dance and happy," he said. "He just had so many dreams and aspirations in the music world."

"He had his daughter that he loved so much," Jack said. "There's so many people that are missing him already."

'I'm worried for the babies of the family'

Roxy said family and friends of Pinnock looked up to him.

"I'm worried for the babies of the family. The kids that call him 'Uncle,'" she said.  "You know, they have to learn at 10 and 12 and 5, 'Your uncle didn't die from cancer or a sickness or he was 95 – he was shot up.'"

Chris Ireland, who goes by the name Maje1 and played with Pinnock in the group Unit Live, said Pinnock was like family and was "generous and caring."

Ryan Bulluss, also a member of Unit Live, said Pinnock "went out of his way for everybody." He said Pinnock was always willing to perform for fundraising events, including for causes such as cancer research and the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfire last summer.

Police have collected video from the scene, are analyzing that video and are interviewing witnesses. Officers are also seeking dash cam video that might have captured the shooting.

Schertzer said, according to witness reports, more than one suspect was involved. No description of the suspects was available other than that they were male.

Toronto residents in the area near the shooting, from Dufferin Street west to Caledonia Road, Eglinton Avenue West north to Castlefield Avenue, are urged to search their backyards for "discarded items" or "anything that doesn't belong to them." If anything is found, residents should contact police.

kelly.bennett@cbc.ca