A man shot to death in his vehicle last weekend was described as "kind, humble and hard working" on Saturday by a person speaking for his family.
Hashim Omar Hashi, 20, was killed in the area of Jane Street and Falstaff Avenue on Sunday shortly before 9 p.m. He is Toronto's fifth homicide victim of the year.
Ahmed Urur, a youth counsellor and an imam in northwest Toronto, told reporters at a news conference near the homicide scene that Hashi's family, friends and people in the community are experiencing much sadness, anguish and grief at his loss.
Urur said he met Hashi more than a year ago before the COVID-19 pandemic. Hashi joined a trip organized by a local mosque to Mecca.
"What I remember most about him was that he was an amazing beautiful soul. He was always smiling and internally filled with joy," Urur said.
"He would be one of the first to wake up in the morning and would try to set everyone up for that day."
Urur said he has "beautiful memories" of him from that trip, which included morning walks to the mosque.
"In his short time here, he touched many people's lives. He lived his life simply and fully and this is why his death has hit a lot of our community members," Urur said.
Urur said his family described Hashi as a "kind, humble and hard working young man" and everyone who met him could attest to these character traits. Urur said Hashi was a wonderful person.
"He was a caring friend, a thoughtful neighbour, and even more, a loving son and brother."
According to a GoFundMe page, Hashi was a second-year student at Humber College/University of Guelph and was working on his accounting degree.
Urur said gun violence is an epidemic in Toronto that has become frequent and routine.
"Let us remember that there is nothing normal about tragic killings. How can the loss of our young people be a routine? To many, it may seem that this is a problem for a group of people in different parts of the city. But these tragedies are a problem for everyone in the city. Our pain and suffering should be a problem for everyone."
According to Toronto police, Hashi was not involved in gang activity and did not have any gang affiliations.
"He was a student studying accounting and worked part-time at the airport. He had a promising future and he was a very well respected young man," Det.-Sgt. Ted Lioumanis said at the news conference.
Lioumanis, of Toronto police's homicide squad, said Hashi was returning home by himself last Sunday after a quick dinner with friends when he was fatally shot.
Police are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
"The appeal today is for any witnesses that may have information that could assist this investigation," he said.
Lioumanis added he doesn't know why Hashi was targeted, but said the getaway car was seen in the neighbourhood before the shooting. Police will consider if the case is one of mistaken identity.
"I cannot say that Mr. Hashi was targeted for the person he was."
On Sunday, five minutes before 9 p.m., Lioumanis said police at 12 Division received a call about a shooting in the area of Jane Street and Falstaff Avenue.
When officers arrived at 40 Falstaff Ave., where the homicide happened, they found Hashi in his car. He had been shot many times. Officers tried to save his life, but he died at the scene.
Detectives have reviewed surveillance camera footage from the building, interviewed witnesses and determined that Hashi was trying to swipe his key fob to enter into an underground parking garage at the rear of the apartment building when another car approached from behind.
"A lone suspect exited the front passenger side of that vehicle and ran to up to Mr. Hashi's passenger side vehicle and fired multiple gunshots," Lioumanis said.
Then the shooter got back into the getaway car and that car was last seen eastbound on Falstaff Avenue before it is believed to have travelled onto Highway 401, according to police.
At 1 a.m. on Monday, police recovered the getaway car, engulfed in flames, at Earl Bales Park in the area of Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue West. It was a 2017 model, four-door, black Honda Civic and it had been stolen from outside the Toronto area.
Surveillance video shows shooter, getaway car
On Saturday, police released surveillance video of the shooter and the getaway car. Police are looking for the driver and the shooter. The car entered the apartment building complex shortly after Hashi arrived at the building.
Supt. Ron Taverner, of the Toronto Police Service, said gun violence is a problem in the community. There have been many efforts, including community meetings, to try to solve the problem.
"The gun violence has plagued this particular community, the buildings here on Falstaff. We and the police have taken measures to increase our patrols, to have ongoing dialogue with our housing partners," Taverner said.
Coun. Frances Nunziata, who represents Ward 5, York South-Weston, said city officials have met with building and community members because they do not feel safe.
Toronto Community Housing has installed security cameras on all floors of the building and in the parking lot.
"We've had members of the community that have come forward with a petition asking for more security and more police resources in this area. The gun violence that we have in this city is sickening. Another life has been lost," she added.
"We need to work together with the community and the police to try and stop the gun violence that we have in this community."