Should they be eventually caught, whoever was responsible for last year's killing of a pregnant woman in Toronto will also be charged in the death of her newborn, a homicide investigator said Tuesday as he appealed for public help in the challenging investigation.
Toronto Police Service Detective Sergeant Mike Carbone said the decision was made after consulting with senior prosecutors. He spoke at a news conference that underlined the tragic death of the infant boy, with the police mentioning that his name was Kyrie Bobb and unveiling the hashtag #KyrieBobb to push social-media posts about him.
"I hope perhaps it will appeal to someone's conscience," Det. Sgt. Carbone said. "Maybe the individual themselves will come forth. I just hope this will generate some more tips, some more information from people in the neighbourhood."
Criminal charges in the baby's death were a potential development from the time of his death, on June 5, 2016, three weeks after his mother, Candice Rochelle Bobb, was fatally shot in Toronto's Rexdale district.
Canadian law only confers the legal status of human being to a baby who has left its mother's womb – but not to fetuses. Someone who kills a pregnant woman would not be charged in connection with the death of her unborn child.
However, Kyrie was delivered by emergency caesarean section after his mother was shot.
Section 223 (2) of the Criminal Code says a person is considered to have committed a homicide when causing an injury before birth that results in the child dying after being delivered.
Ms. Bobb was killed on May 15, 2016, as she sat in a car on John Garland Boulevard, near Jamestown Crescent, in a neighbourhood nicknamed Doomstown because it is afflicted by gangs and violence.
Det. Sgt. Carbone said that Ms. Bobb was not targeted but that the vehicle she was riding in might have triggered the gunfire by its movements near a gun-plagued housing complex.
A single mother with two teenaged sons, Ms. Bobb was five months pregnant. The 33-year-old lived in neighbouring Mississauga.
The night she was shot, she and three men had gone to an amateur league basketball game in the east end. They drove back to the Rexdale to drop off one of the men.
Their car was heading east on the south side of John Garland Boulevard, then did a U-turn just before Jamestown Crescent and came to a stop.
"The U-turn in front of the Jamestown complex could have drawn the attention of the offender as being some type of a threat to them," the detective said.
Two weeks ago, at the same street corner where Ms. Bobb was killed, a teenaged boy was seriously wounded in an evening drive-by shooting.
Det. Sgt. Carbone said investigators are checking if the latest incident is connected to Ms. Bobb's slaying. "We're trying to make forensic links if at all possible."
Right after Ms. Bobb's killing, police Chief Mark Saunders made an appeal for public help, acknowledging that local residents would be reluctant to talk to police.
Nearly 10 months later, Det. Sgt. Carbone conceded investigators still faced the same hurdle.
"It's been rather challenging, but I truly believe that the community will come together," he said.
He added: "I hope they will rely on their own decency and come forward and let us know what happened."