Neighbours in a Brampton community say they are reeling after a seemingly happy family was torn apart Wednesday night when the father was charged with first-degree murder after his two sons died.
Emergency crews responded to a medical assistance call at a residence on Hiberton Crescent, near Creditview Road and Sandalwood Parkway West, at around 10:55 p.m.
Peel Regional Police said when officers arrived, two young boys were found dead. A short time later, police said officers determined the deaths were suspicious — prompting the homicide unit to take over the investigation.
On Thursday, police said 52-year-old Edwin Bastidas, the boys’ father, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Neighbours identified the victims as nine-year-old Nicholas and 12-year-old Jonathan.
A neighbour, who only wanted to be identified as Andrea, told Global News the boys were “beautiful kids” and that the parents were “very good, loving and spent a lot of time” with their children.
“They had a very normal, happy, loving family life. I can’t say anything less,” she said, adding she was the boys’ emergency contact at school.
Andrea said she woke up Wednesday night to her phone ringing. She missed the call but when she noticed it was her neighbour and friend Sylvana, the boys’ mother, she said she called back and was met with hysterics on the other end of the line before it was disconnected.
She said she was still in her bedroom when she saw the flashing lights through the window.
“Then I connected her phone call and all the flashing lights, and when I looked out I could see all the first responders,” she said.
Andrea said she went outside and stood at the bottom of her steps, adding she couldn’t process what was all happening.
“I tried to go in and one of the paramedics said, ‘I don’t think you want to go in and you can’t come in,'” Andrea said while calling the process “surreal.”
At first, she said the aunt who lived in the downstairs was taken out in handcuffs, then one-by-one the mother and father came out and were handcuffed.
She said she hasn’t spoken to Sylvana yet, but is planning, with the help of other neighbours, to setup a vigil-type area for the boys with flowers and other things.
Another area resident, Michael Grunwald, told Global News the family had been neighbours for about a decade and said the boys were “very great,” adding they were always very happy and running around.
Grunwald called the situation “heartbreaking” and said the arrest of Edwin was the most “confusing part of all.” He said he categorized them as a regular family that he would see often together, noting the dad seemed like a very quiet man.
“I’ve known them for 10-plus years and I’ve seen them grow up and not being able to see them grow up anymore — it’s just very heartbreaking,” he said.
Paula Delsol spoke with Global News on Friday and said the street they live on is “so quiet” and that “everybody is just so lovely,” including the boys and their parents.
“The family looked so happy, the boys looked so happy,” he said.
“Very, very shocked. Honestly the dad was always with the two boys. If he was washing the car, the dad would be there with the two boys — always with the two boys.”
The Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board said the boys were students at St. Bonaventure Catholic Elementary School in Brampton. Officials said counselling is being provided for students and staff at the school.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the two boys to help cover funeral costs.
Police said the deaths are Peel Region’s 24th and 25th homicides of the year.
Anyone with information relating to the investigation was asked to call the homicide and missing persons bureau at 905-453-2121 ext. 3205, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
— With files from Gabby Rodrigues and Catherine McDonald