Scarlettwood Court shootings cause for concern

Inside Scarlettwood Court.

Scarlettwood Court is a TCHC housing complex in Greater Weston™, just off Scarlett road, on the opposite side of the Humber. The development was built in the 1960s and is home to hundreds of families from a wide variety of backgrounds. Planners (as they did back then) created an isolated enclave in a beautiful setting overlooking Raymore Park with two main entrances; one from busy Scarlett Road and the other from Waterton. There is a little used pathway that leads down to Raymore Park.

The main entrance to Scarlettwood off Scarlett Road.

In recent years, several shootings have left residents on edge and fearful. These are the major incidents I have been able to track down.

September 1989 double murder – solved

August 2005: Sarfaraz Shah murdered – unsolved cold case*

January 2014: Colin Mohamed murdered – unsolved cold case

September 2015: three men shot – unsolved cold case

February 2016: Bryan Agyei murdered – unsolved

March 2016: gunfire reported – teen arrested

August 2016: a man was shot in the legs in a drive-by shooting – unsolved

April 2017: car found with windows shot out – unsolved

January 2018: Shaquille Wallace shot dead – unsolved

March 2018: Nnamdi Ogba, 26, of Toronto shot dead. – unsolved

*Cold cases are unsolved crimes older than three years.

Toronto Police claim a ‘clearance’ or solving rate for murders of 80%. Clearly 21st Century murders at Scarlettwood have a clearance rate of 0%.

Scarlettwood’s other entrance from Waterton.

The reason behind the spate of shootings is unclear but the story goes that Scarlettwood is the home of the ‘All Crips Gang‘ which apparently has territorial claims stretching down to Dundas Street. Presumably they deal in drugs and other contraband. There may have been a truce between the various gangs at one time but that seems to have ended. According to police, the latest shooting of Mr Ogba, an electrical engineer, seems to have been entirely by chance; criminals from outside Scarlettwood appear to have selected him randomly.

The local councillor for Scarlettwood (in Ward 2) is Mike Ford who responded to my email on March 19 to say,

“I thank you for bringing this concern to my attention and I do sincerely sympathize with you.
I want to assure you that the safety of Etobicoke is at my highest priority and any violence especially criminal violence is a serious concern.

I have spoken with Mayor Tory and Toronto Police Chief in the past and I will be doing the same for this incident. Although there is no easy answer to this problem I will be following up with yourself and the community for their input on this matter.”

I replied to the councillor that if anyone needs sympathy and help, it’s the law-abiding people trying to raise their families, trapped in the confines of Scarlettwood Court.

Residents told me that dozens of police responded on the night of the murder. Cruisers were parked all along Scarlett Road. Today when I walked through Scarlettwood, there was no police presence and residents confirmed that the police are a rare sight.

What’s to be done?

  1. The Mayor should bring his travelling podium show and together with Councillor Mike Ford visit Scarlettwood to meet with residents and listen to concerns. This would show solidarity with residents.
  2. Toronto Police need to get out of their cars and make meaningful and lasting contact with residents. The Community Safety Unit run by TCHC does not absolve police of their ongoing responsibilities. Police also need to avoid showing up in large numbers rather than in ones and twos.
  3. Community groups and social justice warriors should make this their fight too. They need to contact residents and help organize some kind of community association (if none exists) and start a ‘take back Scarlettwood’ movement.
  4. Politicians, police and the community should make and implement a plan of action to support residents.
  5. Because of the limited entrances to Scarlettwood Court, in addition to the existing cameras, it would seem logical to have good quality cameras set up to monitor who comes and goes; cameras with the ability to see images clearly. In 2016, 100 cameras were installed.

Incidentally, the fight for gun control in the U.S. is our fight too. The majority of guns used in Toronto crimes originate in the U.S.

2 thoughts on “Scarlettwood Court shootings cause for concern”

  1. Thank you for this insightful analysis and for your recommendations!

    Mike Ford is in a position to act here, and make this vulnerable area safe. I second every one of your recommendations, and I look to Mr Ford to champion this area.

    1. I wonder if there’s an idea or two in these examples of how and what these neighbourhoods have tried, and will try to do for themselves, as they wait for tips & clues to arrive on homocide detective’s desks at Toronto Police Services – via actual witnesses, or through the anonymity of the program, Crime Stoppers.

      First idea – is that the local Toronto chapter of ACORN Canada may be able to advise on.

      About 10 years ago, ACORN considered the plight of tenants at 1775 and 1765 Weston Road who were trying to deal with resident drug dealers, hookers & (I suppose) gangsters living amongst them, making life extremely difficult and unpleasant for all.

      ACORN apparently showed residents how to mobilize and advocate for themselves, searching for more justice.

      And so, there began the Weston-Mount Dennis chapter of ACORN, who incidently are planning an anti-gentrification march for this Saturday March 24th – as noted previously by our web host.

      Maybe the good folks at Scarlettwood Court would benefit from a conversation with the ACORN membership, who’ve some experience with similar “take back your neighbourhood” matters in other parts of Canada and the USA.

      Second idea – comes in this week’s local news from the inner city, where they are demanding more from the TPS regarding the serial murders in the Toronto’s Gay Village.

      The group called the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) has organized & launched a service that they call “SAFE” – a program allowing members of the community to help one another by checking on someone’s whereabouts & well-being.

      You can read more and find out about this initiative at CBC News Toronto website (Mar.20/18) titled, “Unsure about that online date?”.

      Two communities, trying to brainstorm in order to help themselves, as they await reinforcement from Toronto Police Services, who are also awaiting more in the way of actual tips & clues from communities effected.

      ?

      Crime Stoppers
      1-800-222-TIPS

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