Mourners gather to pay respects to teen shooting victim
Published Saturday, July 28, 2012 9:47AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 28, 2012 10:15PM EDT
Hundreds gathered to say goodbye to the 14-year-old girl who was killed in the crossfire during a Toronto community party.
Shyanne Charles was one of two people killed on July 16 when gunfire erupted at a party on Danzig Street in the east-end Toronto district of Scarborough. Twenty-three others were injured during the ordeal.
Friends and family streamed into Highland Funeral Home in Scarborough on Saturday morning for Shyanne’s service.
Keeping in line with the funeral’s theme of “purity and innocence,” many loved ones wore white, just as several did for her visitation on Friday.
Shyanne’s grandfather told reporters that the day was not one for negativity.
“My granddaughter is being laid to rest in a better place,” said Tyrone Charles. “Everything is nice and good, this is the last stop.”
Asked how he wants his granddaughter to be remembered, he replied, “As an angel.”
Family and friends recited songs and poetry and shared thoughts about Shyanne through an open microphone. Visitors filled the foyer and gathered outside due to a lack of space in the chapel.
Some mourners in attendance struggled to cope with the senseless death.
“She was so young to be gone,” said Enriquita Mamaril. “You know, sometimes I wish I could take the bullet for her.”
Messages were scrawled on the teen’s casket as a final farewell and outside the funeral home, a formal portrait of Shyanne stood on an easel.
Busloads of people, some from as far as Montreal and New York, packed the Scarborough funeral home for Shyanne’s service, which lasted about two hours.
Marilyn Ortega, whose son was shot and killed 15 years ago at the age of 22, attended Saturday’s service. The anti-gun violence advocate said she’s happy politicians are turning their attention to Toronto’s gun problems.
“Right now I’m just satisfied that it’s being paid attention to, but we need more after this.”
During Shyanne’s visitation on Friday, friends and family received white T-shirts with the girl’s school photo on the front and a poem on the back written by her uncle Shakiyl Charles.
The last two lines of the poem read:
“Nothing you seen could have showed you
“My life is a dream when I get close to you.”
Shyanne dreamed of a being a singer, her uncle said, and she had turned his poem into a song that he now carries on his phone. The song was also played inside the funeral home.
In an ongoing tribute to the teen’s life, family members have set up a scholarship fund in Shyanne’s name.
Donations to the Shyanne Charles scholarship fund can be made at any Royal Bank branch.
Also killed during the block party shooting was Joshua Yasay, a 23-year-old man from Ajax who had hoped to become a police officer. A funeral for Yasay was held last Monday.
The Danzig Street shooting, as it’s come to be known, triggered outrage amongst community members and impassioned debate between politicians. Conversation swirled about punishment for gun crimes, the eradication of gangs, support programs for at-risk youth and social housing.
The incident also prompted Toronto police to increase their presence on patrols until Sept. 6.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Ashley Rowe and files from The Canadian Press