On a North York basketball court, a community mourns 15-year-old Shalldon Samuda

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“Let that boy go.”

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It was a simple request, almost a suggestion from a mother—she wanted her teenage boys’ introductions to go on, her intuition telling her she shouldn’t be welcomed into their North York apartment.

Now, Ruthlin Samuda stands in the center of a dark basketball court near Keele Street and Shepard Avenue, surrounded by twinkling candles and the glow of cellphone flashlights. Dozens crowd the shores of the asphalt – one community robbed another young man.


As the teen dressed all black, the family, a grade-school principal and the victim relatives of Sheldon Samuda gathered outside his old public school, on the courtroom where he played, for the fourth night in a row. It is a night vigil which is expected to continue till next weekend till his funeral.

Samuda was shot in the early hours of September 10 in the apartment near his family. He died in the hospital.

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He was only 15 years old.

His mother said, “His life is cut off from me, from his father, from his brothers and from his sisters.” “I’m so hurt right now.”

Eighteen-year-old Alien Brown – an acquaintance – has been charged with second-degree murder. He remains in jail awaiting trial after appearing in court earlier on Wednesday morning. His charge has not been tested in court.

Led by the community’s patriarchs, who arrived before sunset in a plaza parking lot – police SUVs and uniformed officers lined up – worshiped and prayed on the seas, beginning another night of mourning, which sometimes felt part of the church service. Used to be part town hall.

As they headed towards the school, they cried out – “Long live!” “Sheldon!” – Attracting the attention of gas station attendants and passersby.

Sheldon Samuda was the fourth of five boys who were described by friends and family as “quiet,” “loving” and “submissive.” He was known for his attention to the younger members of the community and for being a reflection of his mother. He was the kind of kid who got a job buying a new pair of shoes in front of his friends.

On the basketball court, after the sun sets, Harley Samudra can’t stop moving, her voice rising until she leaps into the open air.

“Shaldon was my boy!”

As he searches for words, he shouts his son’s name, prompting the crowd to echo him.

“We have a lot of Sheldon here today,” he alleged, adding that he didn’t like the man who killed his son – a “coward” who pretended to be friends. He claimed that the killer left his gun and fled.

Boys in attendance are swung into the center court, their heads bowed, as mothers in attendance shake hands around them. They pray for them, encourage them, and sing hymns to them by reminding them of the need for education and the folly of guns.

Samuda’s sister, Carletta, says that he called to pick her up, sometimes spending weekends with her family, including her children.

“Now, I won’t get that phone call because of one person,” she says.

She questions why it hurts a person so much to do what was done to his brother. She wondered what could have been the reason for her.

“The last thing I said to my brother was, ‘I love you and I’m going to come and pick you up soon,'” she says.

“I know one day I’m going to see her soon. I just can’t go and pick her up.”

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based crime reporter for Star. Follow him on Twitter: @jpags

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