Gun violence heats up as murder suspect surrenders

Apr 4, 2013 | News

Police cruiser outside Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Courtesy Facebook

Police cruiser outside Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Courtesy Facebook

By Jesse Thomas

The suspect wanted in the shooting death of a 21-year-old man has surrendered himself to police at 14 district today.

Toronto police confirm, Nisar Hashimi, 23, is in custody and is expected to appear in court later this afternoon.

Hashimi has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder while using a firearm in the shooting death of Anthony Smith, 21, in Toronto’s Entertainment District on March 28.

Police issued a warrant for Hashimi’s arrest Wednesday, offering a stern warning to family and friends that they too could be charged for helping him avoid arrest.

In that incident, when officers arrived on the scene they found two men with gun shot wounds. Smith was shot in the head and later died in the hospital, while the other victim was shot in the back and treated in hospital.

There have been three shooting incidents in Toronto in the last seven days.

Over the last few years, Toronto has seen a significant rise in gun violence.

There were 27 gun murders in Toronto in 2011 and that number rose by 22 per cent to 33 in 2012. There have been 15 homicides reported already this year; eight of those have been gun related.

Dubbed “Summer of the Gun,” by the Toronto Star, 2005 was the deadliest year for gun violence in this city. Eighty homicides were reported that year, 55 of which were the result of gun related activity.

“Gun violence has been defined as social issue for more than 20 years,” said John Sewell, former Toronto mayor and member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition.

“If we don’t start investing money into these young black neighborhoods the issue will not get any better.”

He blames the past government for drastically cutting social programs and called out former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris.

“Mike Harris came in a slaughtered a whole bunch of social programs in the late 90s,” said Sewell. “And we’re paying for it now.

“When you exclude a group of people from society you run into theses problems. We’ve got to start really investing in families, and making sure they have adequate housing and social programs in place.”

Sewell says the issue crosses all political parties and levels of government.

“There’s there’s no quick fix for social trends. It takes a very longtime to bring change,” he said.

A drive-by shooting occurred April 3rd on Varna Drive, in the Lawrence Heights area. Police reported they responded to a shooting where a vehicle approached a 15-year-old boy and a brief conversation was had before several shots were fired from a passenger inside the car.

The teen suffered two bullet wounds to the back and was rushed to hospital where he was treated. He is expected to survive the injuries.

Three days earlier, officers responded to a call for of gunshots heard in the parking lot at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

Two men were shot. Michael Nguyen, 23, of Toronto was pronounced dead on the scene. The second man, 24, who remains unidentified, was taken to hospital in critical condition. He is currently being treated and is expected to make a full recovery.

Police believe the killing was gang related. Both Nguyen and the other man were members of the Asian Assasinz street gang.