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‘I lost my two brothers’: Rexdale shooting survivor speaks out

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Baldwin Thomas was born in Jamaica and said he’s been in places there where he thought he’d get shot.

What he never expected was to fall victim to gun violence here in Canada and to lose two of his closest friends to it at the local high school where they play soccer and dominoes. 

Thomas, who is 56, is one of five men who sustained gunshot wounds during a shooting late Sunday night outside North Albion Collegiate in Rexdale.

Speaking with CP24 late Thursday afternoon, Thomas said that he was shot once in the head and three times in the back while running away.

“I’m doing fine. I’m good. My health is getting there, but I’m still in shock, you know. I lost all my brothers, you know, from a senseless shooting. So, yeah, I’m not okay. I’m not gonna stand here and pretend like I’m okay,” he told CP24 reporter Beatrice Vaisman.

“I just hope, you know, the police do their work, and do it diligently, and get these guys off the road.”

Toronto police said two men in a newer-model, black or blue pick-up truck pulled up in the parking lot of the Rexdale high school shortly before 11 p.m. on Sunday and fired upwards of 50 shots before fleeing the scene.

Two of Thomas’ best friends, brothers as he affectionately called them, didn’t survive.

Delroy “George” Parkes, who was 61, passed away shortly after the shooting, while Seymour Gibbs, who was shot in the legs three times, died on Wednesday morning. He was 46.

The two other victims of the shooting sustained serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

“I’m blessed, you know, I’m blessed. I know there’s a God and it’s not going to change,” Thomas said.

“So, I’ve been protected. I’m sorry I lost my two brothers, and I know I can’t bring them back, but, you know, we will carry on the legacy and we’ll be close as ever to the family, just as we were before. And so, nothing’s going to change.”

Thomas said he’s been coming to North Albion Collegiate to hang out with his friends for more than 36 years.

“We all bring our family here. The kids grew up here with each other, knowing each other. So we do everything here, birthday party, barbecues, football, cricket. … This is like our second home,” he said, adding they’ll be back at North Albion Collegiate again as soon as they lay their two fallen brothers to rest.

“(This shooting is) senseless, senseless, senseless, senseless.”

Thomas, who said that he has no enemies, hopes that the police will catch the two suspects and “put them away for good.” He’s calling for changes to the bail system change, saying that many of those who commit such crimes are repeat offenders.

“They come out. They shoot somebody. They keep going,” he said.

“They come out in no time, and they brag about it so we need to give them some 50, 60 years, just like the Americans, put them away.”

 

Police, faith leaders hold prayer walk in Mount Olive area

Late Thursday afternoon, officers from 23 Division, along with the Etobicoke Strategy faith leaders held a prayer walk in Rexdale’s Mount Olive area near where the five men were shot.

Toronto Police Chef Myron Demkiw and Mayor Olivia Chow were in attendance as well as family and friends of the victims, and members of the community.

The gathering was intended to be a moment of healing for the community, which, as of late, has been grappling with several random shootings.

Officers from 23 Division along with the Etobicoke Strategy faith leaders held a prayer walk on June 6 n Rexdale’s Mount Olive area near where the five men were shot.

A police source with direct knowledge of Sunday night’s homicide told CP24 that they believe the shooting that injured the five men on Sunday night was not targeted.

Toronto police said they’re also investigating two other shootings over the weekend in the area, which they also believe to be random. One of the victims is a 14-year-old boy, the said

Police have not yet released any suspect information at this time.

The investigation is ongoing.

With files from CP24’s Beatrice Vaisman and CTV News Toronto’s Janice Golding.

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