At 2 a.m. on July 17, just as I was about to go to bed, the little message bubble icon at the top of my Facebook screen lit up red, alerting me that I had a message.
It was, surprisingly, one of my photo editors asking whether I was still awake. I was, though I’d been in bed - physically - for quite some time.
“Shooting at 11 p.m. 19 shot including an infant.”
I jumped up, got dressed and headed east, in the general direction of where the shooting had happened. I got more information via email while I was driving.
Arriving at around 2:45 a.m., the street was already taped off at least a block north of where the shooting had happened. I was nervous. I haven’t done much spot news shooting and I wasn’t sure what to do next. I talked to some of the police officers and then headed west to try to find a route around the tape, around the back of some apartment buildings, that would get me to where I needed to be, though I still wasn’t totally sure where that was.
This was the Danzig Street shooting. A neighbourhood barbeque, meant for families and children, had essentially been hijacked by people trying to promote it as a raging block party, advertising free bottles of Hennessy on twitter.
At the end of it all, two people were dead: Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23. I spent half the night staring at his tarp-covered body, 50 or so metres away. A black converse sneaker stuck out the end of the orange sheet; a sad, humanizing element to what otherwise seemed somewhat surreal.
My colleague, Pete Power, arrived around 4 a.m. He’d had to drive a lot farther than I. I was supremely grateful for his presence. We filed together from his laptop on the sidewalk of Danzig Street. I learned a lot from watching him.
We stayed all through the night and as dawn broke, Joshua Yasay’s body was removed. From then on we watched for reaction - the faces of friends and neighbours coming out of their homes; the methodical actions of police making their way to the nearby houses, knocking on doors, looking for witnesses.
By mid-morning the sun was blazing down. A sweltering day like so many others this summer. The darkness that welcomed me to the scene had seemed fitting. It felt like the sun should never have come up.
Another photographer arrived around 10:30 to relieve us. Another took over for him that night, documenting vigils and tears.
Police haven’t yet charged anyone with the shooting deaths of Shyanne Charles and Joshua Yasay but they have linked the crime to a Toronto gang called the Galloway Boys.
all photos copyright Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail