I spent today remembering that it was my friend Chad’s 31st birthday. I say “was”, as Chad is now one of the Toronto Police cold cases – he was murdered five years ago, and they’ve never figured out what happened. I also say “friend”; I hadn’t seen him for a few years before he died, but he was such a terrific guy I never stop thinking of him that way.

The details around the case are unclear. I’m not sure if he had slid into bad habits or wrong crowds; I hope not. Through all his troubles (his gambler father abandoned him and his younger brother, and his home life seemed unstable) the Chad I knew was sweet, protective and pure-of-heart. Those of you who have noted my tendency towards righteous indignation should note that I first experienced these leanings in watching my teachers throughout the years blame him for things he never did, or complain of behaviour he never exhibited. Eventually, he was forced out of our suburban school and sent to a remedial high school downtown, far away from his old friends. Our teachers’ attitudes seemed to condemn him to a life that would end in exactly the way his did. Certainly, he wasn’t a grade-A student, but there were others who were far meaner, far dimmer and far worse behaved (but also far lighter-skinned – he was the only black kid in our class) who were rarely taken to task. I vividly recall my 7-year old self’s attempt, ignored by the offending teacher, to stick up for him after he’d been sent to the Principal for yet another trumped-up charge.

I also vividly recall his kindness in always inviting me to sit for lunch with him whenever I was stuck for company, or intervening on my behalf when some junior high bullies had begun teasing me. Knowing the peacekeeper side of Chad makes me think his death came about as part of an intervention; that he was confronting someone who shouldn’t have been doing something, in an effort to make everything right again.

The last time I saw him was during University – I ran into him on the street between classes, and he proudly informed me that, having finally finished high school (he’d been held back a few times) he was hoping to apply to UofT, and what did I think of it? Being in a rush, I didn’t have much more to offer than my congratulations and encouragement, and an invite to meet up sometime to reconnect. Now, thanks to some faceless, gun-toting piece of filth, that will never happen.

Happy birthday, buddy. I miss you.

On Saturday March 3rd, 2001, at approximately 4:05 a.m., Police Officers from Number 55 Division were out on foot in the area of Queen Street East and Pape Avenue when they heard the sound of a gunshot, which seemed to be coming from an easterly direction. Two other Police Officers were responding to an alarm call on Brighton Avenue at the same time, when they, too, heard the distinct sound of a gunshot from an easterly direction. At 4:08 a.m., a citizen contacted 9-1-1 reporting to have heard the sound of one or two gunshots and screaming in the same general area. An immediate search of the residential area began. As officers were checking the lane way off of Alton Avenue and south of Gerrard Street, they discovered the body of Chad WYNTER, aged 25 years, lying on the snow covered asphalt.

Chad WYNTER had suffered a gunshot wound to the torso. He was rushed to St. Michael’s Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. It appears that Chad WYNTER had been shot near the lane way where he was eventually found.

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