Fri | Jun 21, 2024

J’cans shot dead in parking lot fondly remembered by family, friends

Published:Tuesday | June 11, 2024 | 12:08 AMNeil Armstrong/Gleaner Writer
Seymour Gibbs
Delroy Parkes
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TORONTO:

When Jaidyn Parkes graduates from Toronto Metropolitan University with a degree in social work on Tuesday, June 11, she does so with thoughts of how much her father would have wanted to be there to cheer her on.

“He was supposed to be, he had told everybody about it, anybody who would listen,” she said of her father, Delroy ‘George’ Parkes, 61, a husband and grandfather of Woodstock, Ontario, who was killed when two persons drove into the parking lot of North Albion Collegiate Institute (NACI) in Etobicoke on the night of June 2 and fired upon a group of men who were playing dominoes after a soccer game. Seymour ‘Dappa’ Gibbs, 46, of Toronto, a father of six, died a few days later, on June 5.

The Toronto Police Service report that a dark pickup truck arrived in the parking lot and the two suspects got out and shot at the group of men before fleeing the area in the truck. Officers located five victims – all Jamaicans – with gunshot wounds; they were transported to hospital where Parkes was pronounced dead. The four remaining victims were described as having life-altering and non-life-threatening injuries. Gibbs subsequently died and the others – Denton Thomas, Baldwin Thomas, and Howard Douglas – are recovering.

Jaidyn said everyone in her family is trying to support each other at this difficult time and that the GoFundMe they set up to help with funeral and other expenses had been going well. A private funeral will be held for Delroy Parkes on June 15.

“In this time of unimaginable grief, we are reaching out to our community for support. We need help covering the funeral expenses to give our father the dignified farewell he deserves. Additionally, we seek financial assistance to help our family navigate this challenging period and adjust to life without his presence and support,” said the GoFundMe fundraiser that has a goal of $50,000. The amount raised to date is over $17,000.

“Every memory I have of him is fond. I remember him taking me to school every day and picking me up for lunch and standing at my high school graduation; taking us to the park to play; standing and watching him play soccer. [I remember] how he used to hug me every day and say he loves me – anything I asked him for he said yes. He never let us down. He was always there for me and my brothers.”

She said her father “did not deserve this (being killed). He left Jamaica to try to build a better life and to be safe, and he didn’t get that, unfortunately. He was so beautiful and kind and caring. He was the last person on this earth who deserved it. He loved to sing, he loved to dance, he loved to play dominoes. He was so proud to be Jamaican.” The family last visited Jamaica in May.

She said he would often tell people that his children are ‘Jamaican’, although they were half-British; her mother, Heather, was born in Canada and is of British heritage.

RANDOM SHOOTINGS

His sister, Debbie Parkes, says her brother was born in Lewis district, St. Ann’s Bay in St Ann, Jamaica, on December 19, 1962 - the fifth of eight children for their parents, George and Pastoria Parkes.

He attended Priory Primary and Marcus Garvey Technical High School, and was an all-rounder, she said, noting that he was a security officer before immigrating to Canada in 1991.

She remembers him as God-fearing, kind-hearted, very caring and people-oriented. “He was everybody’s favourite,” she said, noting that she has not been back to work since his death. She said the sentiments from people in Lewis district who Delroy visited in May have been overwhelming.

“Words cannot explain the pain I’m feeling now. He was somebody who didn’t like war. He was afraid of certain things and to get that news that he died from a gunshot, it’s breaking me,” said Debbie tearfully from her home in Liberty district, St Ann. She said her brother, who had a quiet disposition but was very friendly, lived for his family and loved football and playing dominoes.

Delroy is predeceased by his parents and siblings Elma and Junior. He has left to mourn siblings Delma, George, Devon, Debbie and Melisa; wife Heather; children Tashaun, Thornia, Wendel, Romaine, Damion, Ricardo, Halle, Jordan, Jaidyn, Justin and Joshua; and a large extended family.

On June 6, Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw and Mayor Olivia Chow participated in a prayer walk in the community. Premier Doug Ford tweeted that he was disgusted by the shootings — there had been two other random shootings that weekend. On June 8, a candlelight vigil was held for Gibbs, and on the following day, the Parkes family and friends held a peaceful walk in honour of Delroy.

Sophia Dunn, Gibbs’ mother-in-law, told the media last week that those who killed Seymour Gibbs took away an innocent guy who was kind and loved to laugh and cook. She said he recently returned to Canada from Jamaica where he visited his youngest child, a daughter who is not yet one year old.

A friend of the men described the group as tight-knit and routinely played soccer and dominoes in the parking lot of NACI over many years. Their families and friends knew and celebrated each other and so, collectively, the group and community are mourning.