Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux stood beside a photo of Dylan Ellis and Oliver Martin.
In it, the 25-year-old best friends are laughing. Mr. Ellis has his right hand to his open mouth and his left hand on the steering wheel as the Range Rover SUV cruises through the dark, downtown streets.
Three minutes after this photo is taken, a gunman walks up to the vehicle, moments after it rolls to a stop in front of friend’s house on Richmond Street West, and kills them.
The victim’s families have asked Det. Sgt. Giroux: “What could they have possibly done that would have justified taking their lives in such a violent way?”
Almost a year after they were murdered, police still do not know what lead to the shooting.
“The motive remains at this point, completely unclear,” he said. “I have not been able to find another case that is similar to this one with regard to a lack of motive which I find troubling.”
Police have repeatedly dissected their lives and found nothing out of the ordinary that would put these men in harm’s way. No witnesses have come forward to report that the victims were living high-risk lifestyles, he added.
Initially, police released a description of a young, black male on a bicycle as a person of interest. This individual was seen in the area by residents who looked down upon the scene from their windows. But detectives do not know how he fits into the narrative.
Police were working on a theory that it was a case of mistaken identity but Det. Sgt. Giroux said recently that it was unlikely because the gunman would have been close enough to the vehicle to see who he was shooting.
As a part of the publicity blitz launched this morning, posters and photographs of the two victims will appear on television screens on the TTC and on garbage bins around the city. A $50,000 reward still stands for information leading to an arrest.
Det. Sgt. Giroux said the release of the poignant last photo taken of Mr. Ellis and Mr. Martin is to hopefully “convince those members of this community who have a sense of decency to call with regards to information on this particular case.”
“The photograph shows Dylan Ellis and Oliver Martin laughing in the front seats of the SUV. Best friends, they’re on top of the world and they have their whole lives ahead of them. They’re out for an evening with their friends and they don’t have a care in the world,” he said.
Mr. Martin’s girlfriend had taken the picture and reluctantly gave it to police for release.
Det. Sgt. Giroux reconstructed the incident:
Shortly after midnight on June 13, 2008, Mr. Martin, his girlfriend and Mr. Ellis left a friend’s house at Walnut Avenue and Richmond Street after watching a basketball game.
They were driving East on Queen Street when they received a call to return to the apartment because they had taken a set of keys belonging to a friend.
“Absolutely no one would have known they were returning to that address,” Det. Sgt. Giroux said, “other than individuals at the party who were long friends since Oliver and Dylan were little boys.”
“I believe that the precipitating event in relation to the shooting took place some time between the receiving of the phone call and the SUV Range Rover returning to the Richmond Street West address.”
The friends pulled up in front of the high-rise building, in the middle of Richmond Street so that Mr. Martin could just throw the keys up to its owner, who was coming to meet them on a terrace.
A male figure approached the driver’s side of the SUV. Mr. Ellis turned his head to the left to look out the window and acknowledge him with a greeting. “Something consistent of: “˜How’s it going?’” At that point, shots are fired into the SUV. Mr. Martin told his girlfriend who was in the backseat, “Get down.”
The shooter then moved to the front corner of the SUV and fires through the wind shield, hitting Mr. Martin in the chest. He was maybe 18 to 24 inches away from the vehicle.
Mr. Martin’s girlfriend who was unharmed called 911 at 12:08 a.m. Both young men died in hospital.