A mother who lost her son to gun violence, reminded the city that no one is immune from gun violence.
“Joey leaves behind a loving family. He was a 17-year-old high school student. In the fall, his high school gave him an award for kindness. We loved him. He comes from a good home and our family lives in a good community,” said Ana Pavao, of her son, Joseph Petit, who she found in the street suffering gunshot wounds while walking home from work.
“Imagine leaving work and finding your son shot and dying in your very neighbourhood. He would have died alone had I not arrived at that time. I’ve seen and done things that no mother should have to do. No Toronto mother can afford to ignore that it happened to me, it happened to my son and it happened in our city. Joey was a great son, brother, family member and friend. His murderers do not understand the gravity of what they’ve done to our family. They don’t care. We are hoping that other people do care. And we need their help. Our lives are forever changed. Our child was murdered and there is no closure for that. We live in constant sadness and no amount of time will change that,” Pavao said.
Homicide Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux said Joseph knew his attackers and there was some sort of dispute between them.
Two males had brief conversation with Petit at 5:50 p.m. on January 4 on Dentonia Park Ave., before a struggle ensued and one of them shot Petit. The males then walked towards the Victoria park subway station.
No Toronto mother can afford to ignore that it happened to me, it happened to my son and it happened in our city.
Giroux announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the case but said it is most likely that Joseph’s friends and acquaintances that will solve the case because it’s the right thing to do.
“The people who know what happened to Joseph shouldn’t be motivated by financial gain. There are people within his circle of friends or influences, these are the people who have heard what happened to Joseph and why, and who was present,” Giroux said. “Quite frankly, they should be coming forward because it’s the things your parents taught you from a young age about the difference between right and wrong. I’m appealing to these individuals. The general public at large won’t have these type of answers.”
Giroux said he needs tangible evidence to take to court and despite rumours in the community the case is far from solved because no witness has come forward.
“There is no doubt that some of Joseph’s friends and associates know exactly what happened to Joseph on that particular day and will likely know the reason for the shooting taking place,” Giroux said. “This is going to be witnesses coming forward saying I heard an admission (of guilt) from the offender or I was present.”
Giroux said it takes the courage of an individual to stand before the court and testify.
“The Homicide Squad requires evidence if we are going to seek to take the liberty from someone for the rest of their lives and that’s the way it should be. The threshold for proof in the court is substantial, it always will be that way and always should be that way,” Giroux said. “We need witnesses to come forward, to participate in reducing the violence in the community.
“The family need the loyalty of the community to come forward now,” he said. “I encourage the community to have the courage, and, when I say community I am speaking about people who are friends of Joseph and classmates and neighbours to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”