A nine-year-old Brampton boy shot dead in his living room late Wednesday night was not struck by a stray bullet, said Peel Regional Police. Rather, "the house was targeted," said acting Superintendent George Koekkoek Rob Higgs, who heads the Peel Homicide Squad.
Kesean Williams lived in the end unit of a townhouse complex in central Brampton with his mother and 15-year-old brother.
The family, however, had only been living in the house since last week. It was unclear whether they or perhaps the previous occupants were the target, Supt. Koekkoek said.
As far as police know, only one shot was fired, which penetrated the window of the living room, where Kesean was watching television. His brother was in the house, but their mother was not, Supt. Koekkoek said.
None of the family members were previously known to police.
It is believed the gunman, or gunmen, fled on foot, Supt. Koekkoek said, without elaborating.
Earlier in the day, police had suggested Kesean was the victim of a stray bullet that accidentally penetrated the window.
He was struck in the back of the head and died early Thursday morning in Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.
Supt. Koekkoek said it seemed "unfathomable" that the nine-year-old could have been the target. Kesean was a Grade 4 student at Sir Winston Churchill Public School, which is a short walk away from his family's rented brick-and-shingle townhouse. Grief counsellors and police officers were at the school, which lowered its flag to half-mast, on Thursday.
A memorial was set up in the foyer with flowers, a teddy bear and a photo of Kesean, who gave a slight smile for the camera wearing a green-and-white striped polo shirt. The memorial featured dozens of handmade cards and drawings. Several children wrote: "God loves you" and another said "Kesean we will miss u!!" with a frowny face underneath the exclamation marks.
"He'd only been at the school since September, but during this time there, he formed many friendships, was a well-liked student, so his death is deeply felt by everyone in the building," said Carla Pereira, a spokeswoman for the Peel District School Board.
His classmates also wrote a poem remembering Kesean for making them laugh with his sarcastic sense of humour. He loved French, art, basketball and doing "the Kesean dance."
"Kesean, we pray you are happy in heaven playing your favourite video games and looking down at the world and watching us. May you rest in peace," it says.
Maggie Lopes, a resident of the area, described Kesean as a "regular little kid." Though she didn't know the family, Kesean played basketball with her 10-year-old son. She added that the family recently returned to the area.
"They used to live here, they left, and then they just got back a couple weeks ago," Ms. Lopes said.
At Kennedy Square mall, a short walk from Kesean's house, Carlos Pacheco described the area as low-income with lots of drugs and vandalism.
"If you go around Brampton, Ardglen is the hood," said Mr. Pacheco, 40, who used to live in the neighbourhood when he was younger. "It's really rough."
Mr. Pacheco said he is disgusted with the shooting, adding that it feels "like you're not even safe in your house today."
While Mr. Pacheco said someone was stabbed at the intersection of Kennedy and Clarence in the past few years, shootings in the neighbourhood are rare.
As police and journalists shivered in the biting cold Thursday, yellow police tape cordoned off a 50-metre section of the street.
Numerous police cruisers dotted the area as officers methodically canvassed door to door, asking residents if they saw or heard anything suspicious on Wednesday night. A police helicopter hovered overhead midday Thursday while officers scoured the grass with a rake and a metal detector. A German shepherd sniffer dog was also at the scene.
The Peel homicide squad is famous for its average annual clearance rate of more than 90 per cent. The force front-loads an investigation by flooding the scene with dozens of officers during the first, crucial 72 hours.