CANADA: Imam of mosque where Samatar Farah, 24, prayed questions police calling shooting ‘targeted
Outpouring of funds for Farah’s funeral a ‘translation’ of community’s love for him, says Hassan Ibrahim
Members of Toronto’s Somali community are reeling from the loss of a 24-year-old fatally shot in Scarborough, who is being remembered as having a kind and easy-going personality, always with a smile on his face.
More than $22,000 has been raised online to cover funeral expenses for Samatar Farah, who was found dead in a parking lot near Chester Le Boulevard and Morecambe Gate in the early hours of Saturday morning.
That, says Hassan Ibrahim of the Abu Huraira Center mosque where Farah used to pray, is a reflection of how loved he was in the community.
“It’s truly a translation of what kind of person he was, how people came together … The Somali community in general is a close-knit community that support each other … But it’s also testimony to him,” said Ibrahim, who said he’d known Farah for at least the last eight years.
Concerns over term ‘targeted’
“Every person that I spoke to just felt the pain, and it’s just a way for them to do something and translate that.”
It’s been more 48 hours since police were called to the Victoria Park and Finch Avenue East neighbourhood after gunshots rang out around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. At the time, no victim was found.
It wasn’t until the daylight hours, at 8 a.m. that a resident found Farah with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Saturday, Det. Jason Shankaran of Toronto police described the shooting as a “targeted” incident, saying police were withholding the victim’s name so that the family could notify additional relatives.
But for friends and community members who knew Farah as “always happy, always giving,” that term evokes a stigma that Ibrahim says is unwarranted and unfair.
“That’s what police said, but we haven’t gotten any information from them as to how they came to that conclusion,” said Ibrahim, telling CBC Toronto that he’s asked police to elaborate but hasn’t heard any more about just what being “targeted” means.
‘We can no longer be quiet’
“That again will send a signal that it’s a gang violence issue, but that’s not what we know of Simatar,” Ibrahim said. “Definitely, they have to clarify what that means, that statement.”
Farah was not known to police, Shankaran said Saturday.
Ibrahim also spoke of what he says is a lack of answers around recent killings of Somali youth across the country, pointing to some 100 in the last several years, many of which he says are unsolved.
“The argument from the police is we need help from the community,” Ibrahim said, adding he’d like to see more police resources dedicated to solving the cases. “The response has to be bigger than this. We can no longer be quiet.”
Saturday’s shooting came just days after another in the area on Thursday evening that sent two men to a trauma centre with gunshot wounds. Police have not said if the incidents were related in any way.
“Obviously this neighbourhood has had its share of tragedy lately, so we’re going to work hard to solve this,” Shankaran said to reporters at the scene, adding police are searching for two suspects seen fleeing the area on foot.
‘Our dear brother’
In the meantime, the dollar amount on the GoFundMe page for Farah continues to rise.
“To Allah we belong, and to him we return,” the page begins.
“Samatar was one of the nicest, kind hearted, easy going people you would ever come across,” the page reads, calling Farah “our dear brother.”
On Facebook, Dynasty Basketball League, a community organization, posted a tribute to Farah.
“We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Samatar Farah. He was loved by many and was a class act on and off the court,” the post reads.
An autopsy for Farah was scheduled for Monday. Police have said they’ll release the victim’s identity only after a funeral date is set.
For now, Ibrahim says Farah’s parents are trying to come to grips with the loss of their son. His father is expected to arrive in Toronto from Somalia Tuesday.
“The mother is a strong faithful woman and she understands that this is what God decreed. Good or bad, we have to take it as such and pray for him.”
Farah was Toronto’s 15th homicide victim of the year.