In the early-morning hours of April 19, the Young Buck Killers were partying at an Airbnb room they rented for the night when a second gang, the Queens Drive Crips, came looking for them.
Caught on camera by the elevators in the Toronto condominium at 300 Front St. W., a gunfight erupted on the 25th floor between the rival gangs. It quickly escalated into the kidnapping and torture of two 17-year-old boys.
Now, Toronto police are searching for two suspects who are considered armed and dangerous. Four arrests have been made so far in connection to the shooting and kidnapping.
At a news conference on Thursday, the two kidnapping victims were described by Staff Inspector Mike Earl as “friendlies” – associates of the Queens Drive Crips but personally on cordial terms with the rival Young Buck Killers. All that changed when more members of the Queens Drive Crips crashed the party.
Following the gunfight, the teens were held for ransom, beaten, forced to play Russian roulette and sexually assaulted over the next several days, police said.
The party broke up after the shooting, with the Young Buck Killers and two teen boys ending up at 77 Swansea Mews, the public-housing project on The Queensway where police believe the two teenagers were first subjected to torture.
Neighbours called police concerning a disturbance in the area, but they were too late. By the time officers arrived, the teens had been moved to a location in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood, where the brutality continued. They suffered abuse until a ransom was paid two days after the incident, police said.
One neighbour on the 25th floor of 300 Front St., who wished to remain anonymous for her safety, was awoken by the gunfire. “I wanted to come out, but I didn’t. I realized how late it was and I thought that they were drunk and fighting physically,” she said in an interview. She said she heard men scream and run, but a few minutes later, they were gone.
She said she went back to sleep at about 3:45 a.m. When she entered the hallway on her way to work the next morning, she saw spent bullets and casings on the ground, as well as a frayed cut in the carpet and a hole in the wall with drywall cluttered at the base.
Nobody had called the police during the night, despite the gunfire, Staff Insp. Earl said.
“I live in a pretty expensive condo; it’s not my first assumption that someone is shooting outside,” the woman said.
She called the security guard who monitors the entrance to her building. The guard came and collected the bullets off the floor, which she found unusual. Later, she called the police.
She wasn’t told until days later – and never by the building managers or police – that the gang members were part of an Airbnb rental and not residents of the building. She was so terrified of the shooter returning, she said, that she spent the night at a friend’s place, and later had her boyfriend sleep over.
“It’s Airbnb, and things happen and it’s no one’s fault. These people don’t live in the building,” she said, adding that she was concerned about the lack of communication from building management.
Between the shooting and other violence she’s heard of in the neighbourhood, she’s now looking to move to a more residential part of town.
Andre Gawaran, 30, who also lives on the 25th floor, was there on the night of the shooting, but both he and his wife slept through the noise.
“What was most disturbing was that we didn’t get any information,” Mr. Gawaran said, agreeing with his neighbour. He, too, was left in the dark about what happened in the building that night.
He said he was assured by the building managers that changes would be made to security, but he was disappointed to know that media were able to walk in twice without signing in or showing ID.
The video of the gunfight shows four Young Buck Killers encountering the Queens Drive Crips on the 25th floor. No one was killed, but a bullet was believed to have grazed the head of one of the Young Buck Killers.
Police named two suspects, Thai-Shay “Pistol” Gordon, 17, and Lincoln Anthony Richards, 23, who were last seen in the Lawrence Heights area. Police received judicial authorization to name the 17-year-old.
Staff Insp. Earl called Mr. Gordon a “ringleader” involved in some of the more severe punishment doled out against the two 17-year-olds. Both Mr. Gordon and Mr. Richards were described as “very violent.”
Quinton Gardiner, 19, was also named as one of the primary instigators of the incident and was apprehended by police on Saturday. He faces numerous charges, including kidnapping for ransom and assault with a weapon.
A spokesperson for Airbnb said the company had yet to locate the listing where the shooting occurred, but added that it’s doing everything it can to co-operate with police