The grieving father of a 15-year-old shot to death just blocks from the family’s Scarborough home believes his son was minding his own business while walking home from school when he was accidentally shot.
“We heard two guys fighting and run or somehow and somebody shot just by accident — innocent,” said Abdullah Khosrawi while speaking about his son, Safiullah Khosrawi, whom he identified to Global News as the victim of Toronto’s fourth homicide of 2020.
Abdullah said he was driving home from work along Ellesmere Avenue on Monday when he saw the road blocked with police tape near Markham Road. He said he had no idea Safiullah, a Grade 10 student at Woburn Collegiate Institute, was involved.
It was only later when he arrived home that Toronto police officers came to the family home and told him his son was in hospital in critical condition. Minutes later, Khosrawi was informed his son had died.
Police said they responded to calls for the sounds of gunshots in the area of Markham Road and Ellesmere Avenue at around 3:10 p.m. on Monday. When officers arrived, they found the teen with a gunshot wound in serious condition. Safiullah was rushed to hospital but later succumbed to his injuries.
Investigators later said a TTC bus was struck by a stray bullet but no one was injured.
Toronto Police Homicide Squad Det.-Sgt. Andy Singh told reporters during a news conference Tuesday afternoon that a 15-year-old boy, who can’t be identified due to provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was charged with second-degree murder. He added the accused is also a student at Woburn Collegiate Institute.
Singh said the suspect is known to police and has some gang-related ties, but it was still unclear on Tuesday if the shooting was an act of gang-related violence.
He said although it’s still early in the investigation, it appears the victim and the suspect didn’t have any previous connection. Singh said officers are still working to determine if Safiullah was the intended target.
“Very brazen and very shocking, especially with the time of the day … it’s very concerning,” he said when asked about the nature of the shooting.
“This incident occurred in broad daylight and there was significant pedestrian traffic in and around the area of the incident.”
Singh said police spoke with some witnesses, but noted many still have yet to come forward. He said police believe there might be cellphone video that could have captured the shooting, urging anyone with video to submit it to officers or to Crime Stoppers anonymously.
“There may be people out there that are on the fence that haven’t contacted us. We need them to come forward because we need to hold people such as this young person that’s been charged accountable for their actions,” Singh said.
“The victim, which I really want to emphasize the message here, was completely innocent in the sense that he did not have ties to any individuals. His own past and his record, there was nothing there to indicate he would end up in such a situation.”
Meanwhile, Abdullah said he was told there could be more suspects at large.
“They caught one,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
“My son was a very quiet person, very nice, and he just comes home and goes (to) school. I can’t believe it.”
Abdullah said Safiullah was the youngest of four children who enjoyed playing soccer, swimming and riding his bike.
He said his son was never in any trouble before and is shocked the shooting happened so close to his son’s school.
“All around this area. We never expect it to happen like that, especially around the kids’ school,” Abdullah said, shaking his head.
Karen Hume, the principal of Woburn Collegiate Institute, said in a letter to parents that Safiullah was a “conscientious and hardworking student” who will be missed. She said social workers and guidance counsellors will be present at the school to help students and staff.
“The Woburn community will come together to show our respect and support based on the family’s wishes,” Hume wrote.
“Many students are understandably upset, especially those who may have witnessed this incident or knew Safiullah well.”
Anyone with information or dash-cam video was asked to call police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.