Ross Murray says he will remember his former student Aseel Yehya as a promising, talented musician who was well-liked by his peers.
On Sunday the 18-year-old Yehya was identified by Toronto police as the city’s third homicide victim of 2019.
Known by the nickname “Twix,” Yehya was a “nice kid” who was developing a reputation as a gifted singer and writer of rap lyrics, Murray said.
“He definitely had potential there.”
Murray, now a vice principal at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute, said he met Yehya when the teenager became one of his students in the TDSB School Within A College (SWAC) program at Humber College last year.
“Everyone loved him in the class,” said Murray, who taught Yehya from February to June 2018 at Humber College’s north campus. “He was always laughing, always smiling. I mean, he could have been a little more focused with his school work, but … he was always so respectful, polite. He liked to have a good time, got along with everyone.”
Murray said he was in “disbelief and shock” when he learned of his former student’s death through a message from another student on Friday night.
“I was wondering, what happened and why someone would do this? Was it targeted?” said Murray, who said he also thought of the pain his former student must have suffered.
According to police, Yehya was walking on Elmhurst Dr. near Redwater Dr. in Etobicoke around 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday when he was approached by a dark-coloured vehicle. Gunshots were heard. Yehya attempted to run away but was shot. The vehicle drove off.
Police said bystanders provided medical assistance to the teen as he lay on the ground before he was taken to hospital suffering from “severe trauma.” He died a short time later.
In an interview with Global News last week, Saleh Ali, a man identifying himself as Yehya’s father, said his son had gone out that night to give a friend a T-shirt, and was waiting for a bus when shots rang out.
“He’s a good boy. He’s a young boy. He’s a educated boy. He’s a working boy at the airport. I was very shocked. Never ever seen anything like this happen in all my life. It’s not easy,” Ali told Global News.
A heartbroken Murray took to Twitter on the weekend, posting several photos of Yehya, and calling for an end to gun violence in Toronto. Murray said Yehya was the third student under the age of 18 he has known who lost their life to gun violence in the last nine years.
“I just want people to know that he was a good kid. A nice kid with a whole future ahead of him.”
With files from Jack Hauen
Kenyon Wallace is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @KenyonWallace or reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org