Kamal “Tall Up” Hercules spent a lot of time on the Esplanade basketball court in the St. Lawrence community teaching young people to play the sport when he was not competing recreationally.
Two years ago, on Labour Day weekend, he was fatally shot outside a nearby convenience store at the intersection of Front & Sherbourne Sts.
To mark the anniversary, family and friends unveiled a community bench in his memory last Monday, a day after a memorial barbecue at Coronation Park.
“This was where Kamal hung out and did positive things,” said long time friend Jessica Luke-Smith who met the deceased in Grade One at Market Lane Junior & Senior Public School. “This is also an appropriate spot for the bench because young people in the neighbourhood will understand the influence he had in this community.”
Luke-Smith was one of the last people to see Hercules alive.
“I saw him and another friend standing outside the Rabba Fine Foods Store as I was on my way home to pick up some clothes and other things for a weekend trip to Montreal with some girlfriends,” she recalled. “He knew I was going away and he told me to have a good time.
“Less than two minutes later, I heard the gunshots and I drove back to see Kamal lying on the ground. I told him I was calling his mother and I also told him to stay strong as I held his hand. He was grasping for air and could not say anything.
Hercules, 21, was pronounced dead at St. Michael’s Hospital.
His mother, Ann Singh, is still trying to come to grips with the loss of her only child.
“People say as time goes by it gets easier, but that is not the case with me,” she said. “It’s so hard to know that someone you love and care for so much is no longer here. I really miss that boy.”
A graduate of West Toronto High School, Hercules – who had never been in trouble with the law and was not known to police – was job hunting at the time of his death.
Fayisa Ahmed Ibrahim was arrested in May 2010 and charged with first-degree murder. At the time of his arrest, the 23-year-old was facing drug-related charges.
A second suspect, Abdalla Mohammed Hassan, who was the subject of a warrant in the first for accessory after the fact for murder, was apprehended last May.
The City of Toronto Bench program allows the public to pay tribute to a person by purchasing a park bench for installation in a public facility.