A city resident, who helped police capture a suspect in a shooting in downtown Toronto just hours after the Toronto Raptors won their first National Basketball Association (NBA) championship, was among 21 individuals honoured with Community Member Awards.
Shortly after watching the historic moment unfold with friends in a condo, Aras Reisiardekani joined fans on the street for the celebration.
At around 4 a.m. on June 13, the amateur photographer heard gunshots near Yonge and Gould Sts.
“As the police were coming to the scene, the shooter ran past them,” said Reisiardekani, who captured the crime scene on his camera. “He was trying to blend in it with the crowd and I was determined that he would not get away with what he had done.”
Police arrested the suspect without incident.
“I am so happy that they got him,” said Reisiardekani, after the awards ceremony on Sept. 23 at Toronto Police Service Headquarters. “I was very impressed with how the officers managed the scene, which was chaotic, and the professionalism they displayed.”
Around mid-morning on April 19, Taimur Auzam was at a fast-food drive-through near Kingston Rd. and Galloway Rd. when he saw a man ran past his vehicle.
“I thought it was a bit weird,” he said. “Moments later, I saw a lady with a stroller and some young kids yelling that the guy that ran past me had stolen her wallet.”
Auzam chased the suspect with his car.
“I was able to catch up to him and he dropped the wallet and scampered through a laneway,” he said. “Retrieving the wallet was more important than getting him. I have three kids and the lady had three kids that I learned were her grandchildren and they looked traumatized.”
Auzam took his three children to the awards ceremony.
“I wasn’t really all that interested in being honoured,” he said. “But I think it was important for me and my kids to be here as this is a teachable moment for them.”
This is a reminder that there are so many good people in our city who are prepared to go the extra distance
Chief Mark Saunders joined Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Andy Pringle in presenting the awards.
“When we talk about people responding with compassion, courage, bravery and all those other elements, it speaks to the core of the human beings that we all have within our great city,” Saunders said.
Pringle said it’s always a pleasure to honour extraordinary members of the community who have been instrumental in assisting the police in ensuring that neighbourhoods are safe.
“As the Toronto Police undergoes an exciting period of modernization and transformation, we are now looking more than ever before to partner with our communities to make and keep Toronto safe, and you are that partnership in action,” he said. “This is always a particularly important event as we honour and thank members of the community for their acts of selfless bravery, caring and compassion. This is a reminder that there are so many good people in our city who are prepared to go the extra distance.”
The outgoing Chair noted that the honourees rose to the challenge and did what was necessary to prevent a death or crime or to support a good cause.
“Through their quick thinking, keen observation, their compassion and persistence, they helped to capture suspects, solve crimes, assist people in need and even saved lives,” Pringle said. “Each one of them is a real hero.”
Letters of Recognition were also presented to Rohan Shammi and Avraham Unger.
These letters are awarded to members of outside agencies for excellence in the performance of duty, community policing initiatives or innovations or initiatives that enhance the Service’s operations image.