The truth, sometimes, hurts. But not knowing the truth hurts more.
From all accounts, 15-year-old Jarvis Montaque was a model citizen. He came to Canada from Jamaica two years ago to join his family and fulfill a dream of becoming a Canadian soldier.
That aspiration was shattered two weeks ago when the Father Henry Carr Secondary School student was fatally shot in the dark by a single bullet while listening to music with some friends outside his Jamestown residence. He’s the third 15-year-old to succumb to gun violence in the city this year.
Now left with memories of a young life ended violently, the family is still trying to come to grips with his senseless death.
“Could it be jealousy or a girlfriend?” older sister Tanasha Smith said she and other family members have been asking themselves since their sibling’s murder. “Then again, he had lots of friends, but no girlfriend. Not knowing why hurts so much.”
Smith said she has watched over the years as violent crime has increased in her community, snuffing out young lives in the process. She pointed out it does not take much these days for someone to pull a trigger.
“You could be wearing a colour or rapping a tune someone doesn’t like,” Smith said. “Having a gun gives people a lot of power. As long as they have it, they become invincible and no one can do anything about that. They have the power.”
Displaying strength and equanimity in the face of a devastating family crisis, Smith appealed directly to the killer to surrender.
“Find a lawyer, find someone you trust and turn yourself into police,” she said. “It will bring some sort of comfort to us to know that the person that walked up that night and pulled the trigger to end Jarvis’ life come forward.”
Both sisters said their brother was an ambitious young man with a bright future ahead of him.
“I just want to let everybody know that my brother was an amazing person and that he didn’t deserve to be taken away from us,” said another sister, Roshea Gunnis, before being overcome by tears. “Jarvis did not surround himself with negativity. He came to Canada with an ambition to become a soldier and fight for Canada.”
The sisters joined homicide officers at Toronto Police Service’s 23 Division on Tuesday to launch Crime Stoppers latest anonymous campaign, “You Remain Anonymous, Crime Does Not.”
Just six months ago, Montaque spent a few hours in the same police community room where the press conference was held as part of the ProAction-sponsored “Cool Tool School” program that teaches young people and adults home repair skills.
Rev. Allan Bowen, the senior pastor at Abundant Life Assembly that Montaque attended, conceived the idea for the program. Bowen and the Grade 10 student met in July 2011 when the newcomer was a volunteer with the Jamestown Volunteer Community Services Day Camp.
“He and a few other people came over to pick up flowers in a greenhouse and the temperature that day went up to 110 degrees,” Bowen recounted. “The only one who really survived without noticing the hot temperature was Jarvis. He was a workhorse. He worked with me for two years on the flower truck. He was just a remarkable young man.”
Montaque’s death was the city’s eighth homicide of the year. His memorial service takes place today at Abundant Life Assembly and his body will be flown to Jamaica for burial at a later date.
The family has set up a trust fund to assist with the burial. Donations can be made to the TD Bank Trust under account under Tanasha Smith’s name. The transit # is 02622, the branch # is 004 and the account # is 78766661987.
D/Sgt. Gary Giroux said he has all the investigative resources at his disposal to assist in finding the individual responsible for Montaque’s death. He however pointed out that witness participation is going to be paramount in the investigation.
“I need witnesses to come forward and to speak to me truthfully with regards to the information they have received in regards to what happened to Jarvis on that particular night,” he said. “That information I can take to the crown attorney office in the interest of moving forward with criminal charges.”
Crime Stoppers coordinator Darlene Ross also appealed for witnesses to come forward.
“Any information that you provide to us could be helpful in the smallest of ways and may send officers in the right direction to solve the crime,” she said.
Anyone with information can contact the Homicide Squad at (416) 808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at (416) 222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637) or Leave a Tip on Facebook.