By Joel Wass
After hearing Alexander Christoff was a soccer fan, on a whim, I went down to the RAC to see if anybody playing soccer knew the recently killed Ryerson student. Little did I know I was about to be the first person to tell Christoff’s old friend about the tragedy.
It was the first time he’d seen Alexander Christoff in two years. “Al’s dead?” asked a stunned, and out of breath, Pablo Torres while looking at a picture of Christoff during a break from a pick-up soccer game in the RAC.
Christoff, a 27-year-old former Diploma in Arts student at Ryerson, went missing last Wednesday. On Friday, his body was found in a walkway in Etobicoke. He’d been stabbed to death.
The killing was covered by Toronto media, but the first time Torres heard about the tragedy was Monday morning in the RAC. Torres and Christoff were part of a tight group of friends when they attended Northern Secondary School, located near Mount Pleasant Road and Yonge Street.
Before he could answer any questions about his old friend, Torres sat down on a nearby blue mat. At first, all he could manage to say was that Christoff had always been “mad cool” and a great person to “chill” with.
It wasn’t until he lay down on the mat that Torres was able to paint a more vivid picture of his high school pal. He began recalling Christoff’s love for music, particularly hip hop.
He remembered him being a fan of soccer, but not somebody who played on the school team. He smiled when he talked about the times he and his friends hung out together at Christoff parents’ house at Yonge and Lawrence streets. “He was great to party with,” said Torres. “He was always buying drinks for people at house parties and clubs.”
They lost touch when Torres, now a fourth-year urban planning student at Ryerson, switched high schools in Grade 11. However, Torres did keep in contact with Christoff’s longtime girlfriend, Tanya, because her family is friends with his.
After talking to The Eyeopener in the RAC, Torres offered to help the paper contact Christoff’s girlfriend. When he was later reached by phone Torres decided it was better if he didn’t give out Tanya’s number, or her last name, saying that she wasn’t ready to talk to the media.
He did mention she was devastated by the slaying and that she had spent the day buying a suit for Christoff to wear at his funeral.
Before hanging up the phone, Torres mentioned he couldn’t understand how something so tragic could happen to someone so well liked.