By Stephen Huebl
A man gunned down on campus last week may have been hunted by his killers, Toronto police say.
“The deceased was the target. It’s just a matter that they located him at that location,” said Detective Terry Wark of the Homicide Squad.
Police do not believe there is a connection between the shooting and its location on campus.
“It was an isolated incident and there is no reason [for Ryerson students] to be concerned,” Wark said.
Shortly before 9 p.m. last Tuesday, Jerry Bugyei-Twum, 23, was gunned down in front of Tim Hortons on Victoria Street. Andre Francis, 19, who was also shot several times, managed to stagger to St. Michael’s Hospital with non-life threatening wounds.
Wark said the victims were known to police. He said the victim was targeted by the killer and called the homicide an “opportunity killing,” meaning it happened because the killers had the chance to kill his intended victim.
Despite the area’s reputation for criminal activity, Wark said police have not labelled the area as a haven for drug dealers. Instead, he said the busy campus may act as a deterrent.
“It’s a well-travelled area and is under constant surveillance,” he said.
But a floor supervisor at the nearby Tim Hortons tells a different story.
When asked if the corner of Dundas and Victoria streets is a problem area for drug dealing, he said, “You can see that big time in the summer. They’re out until 1 a.m.”
The supervisor, who didn’t want his name used, said they call police four or five times each week. He said they constantly have their windows broken, washrooms vandalized and often have violent individuals loitering in the store.
“Strange people are coming in here,” he said. “And it usually takes the police 20 to 25 minutes to get here, or they don’t show up at all.”
On the night of the shooting the supervisor described the scene as “chaotic.” He said people came in telling them about the shooting that had just occurred. Shortly after, the police arrived and told him they couldn’t take any more customers and had to close down for the night, he said.
The Tim Hortons was closed from nine that evening to five the next morning, which cost the store about $1,500 in lost sales.
When asked what he thought of the shooting, the supervisor said, “Are you kidding? It’s scary,” he said. “You can’t trust your own customers at a time like that.”
Police said Bugyei-Twum was talking with an unidentified man who was sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car on Victoria Street. The suspect pulled out a gun and shot Bugyei-Twum before speeding away, according to police.
According to witnesses, Bugyei-Twum staggered across the street after being shot, and collapsed in front of the Second Cup coffee shop.
Ryerson’s manager of security, Lawrence Robinson, said the area isn’t any worse than some other areas of campus, but agreed that it is known for suspicious activity.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s any more of a haven than some other areas of the campus … [but] there is drug activity and no doubt there is drug dealing going on there,” he said.
Robinson said Ryerson security was notified of the shooting almost immediately after it happened. Security first observed the area using surveillance cameras to see if the situation was still in progress, before sending in a plainclothes officer to investigate.
“The first priority has to be their own safety, so they are not going to go charging in any reckless manner,” Robinson said.
Plainclothes officers are sent in so that uniformed security officers, who are more visible, don’t become targets, he said.
Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse said that while he regretted the fact that the shooting took place on campus, all parts of the city are vulnerable to incidents such as these.
“I sure wish that did not happen of course…you can not avoid these things and nowadays they happen,” he said. “We deplore them…but I think if anybody looks at it they will realize that these things happen and, unfortunately, nobody is exempt from such unfortunate events.” He cited the murder of a University of Toronto professor last year as an example.
Toronto police are still reviewing area security cameras, including Ryerson surveillance, and are still interviewing witnesses.
Police are now looking for two male witnesses believed to be friends of the deceased who fled into the Dundas subway station following the shooting.
The first is described as black, between the ages of 16 and 19 years old, 5’7”, medium build, clean shaven and wearing black, baggy jeans and a red sports jersey at the time of the incident.
The second is described as black, younger than the first male, 5’7”, thin and wearing a royal blue bomber jacket and a T-shirt underneath.