Readers may remember the brutal, random killing of Brampton electrical engineer Nnamdi Ogba after he visited a friend from his soccer team in Scarlettwood Court back in March 2018. Mr. Ogba had a fiancée and was about to be married. His murder was carried out by three men who decided that someone from the public housing neighbourhood should die because of gang rivalry. In other words it was a cold-blooded act designed to intimidate and repress a community. Mr Ogba’s killing was one in a series that had plagued the people of Scarlettwood Court.
This Toronto Star article outlines the process by which Toronto Police tracked down the three killers (two gunmen and a driver) and brought them to justice. It demonstrates the value of good surveillance video along with determined and expert detective work as well as support from the community.
Yesterday, an automatic sentence of 25 years with no parole eligibility was rendered for the three who were found guilty by a jury last month. Sentencing was done via video link. The judge had harsh words for the killers, calling people who engage in gang rivalries, ‘fools’.
Only one of the three murderers expressed remorse.
Nothing can bring back Mr. Ogba, however his killing triggered widespread outrage in Toronto. Mayor John Tory attended a memorial held at Scarlettwood in the days after the murder, putting the full weight of his office behind bringing the killers to justice and ending the terror that such crimes inflict on public housing communities.
Let’s hope that Mr. Ogba’s family can take one small shred of comfort that the reaction to Nnamdi’s death may have been a turning point that will prevent the senseless deaths of others.
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.
In recent years, several shootings have left residents on edge and fearful. These are the major incidents I have been able to track down.
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%.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Politicians, police and the community should make and implement a plan of action to support residents.
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.