‘They killed an innocent child’: Falstaff community seeks answers after boy, 16, shot dead
|Toronto Star 06 Aug 2019 at 23:45|
The anger and frustration of an anguished mother were palpable outside a meeting near Jane St. and Falstaff Ave. where her 16-year-old son, Hanad Abdullahi Ali, was shot dead last week.
“I don’t know why they killed my son. They killed an innocent child,” Hodan Abdullahi Ali said.
“He loved his brothers. He listened to me. He loved to play,” she said about her son.
“Every time I come home and see the stairs where he died, I’m shaking.”
In his opening remarks, Toronto Community Housing CEO Kevin Marshman told a packed room of residents that, starting in September, there will be full-time community safety unit officers stationed in — and engaging with — the community.
In addition, he promised to improve safety measures by adding cameras and improving lighting in and around the community.
The two promises prompted immediate applause and “thank you” responses from the audience, but as the meeting went on, residents expressed disappointment in how police and security organizations have treated the community in the past.
“We see you but we don’t feel your presence,” resident Jennifer Boahen told Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders and other officials at the meeting. She said most residents don’t feel comfortable seeing officers around because those officers don’t try to connect with the community, only being there as controllers.
“It is unfortunate that it took the life of Hanad for this meeting to take place. We lost a brother. This is not something to be taken lightly.”
Boahen’s comments sparked emotions from the audience, members of a community around a trio of Toronto Community Housing buildings on Falstaff Ave. At one point Hodan came over to hug her and wipe her tears as she spoke. Many in the audience sobbed through subsequent speeches and questions.
Hodan’s sister Fadouma Alibarre who travelled from Columbus, Ohio for the funeral this past week, said it’s still tough for her sister to accept the reality of this tragedy. She said Hodan was on the balcony trying to call her son to come home when she heard the shots.
“She still says she feels every bullet in her heart,” she said about her sister, who she said was not allowed to see the body until after the autopsy.
She had last seen her nephew last year, and described him as just a young man who was trying to find his place in life.
“He loved sports, every sport. And he’d be saying, ‘I want to be a doctor, I want to be a police officer, I want to be a pilot.’ Just like any other kid’s dreams,” Alibarre said.
Saunders agreed police officers need to improve how they approach community policing, and emphasized the need to partner with community members to find sustainable solutions to violence.