Survivor Pays Heartfelt Tribute to Friends Lost in Toronto Mass Shooting

Delroy Parkes

By Neil Armstrong

A survivor of the mass shooting that claimed the lives of two men in a school parking lot in Toronto on June 2 is remembering them with great fondness.

Denton Thomas, 59, was among a group of men playing dominoes after a soccer game in a parking lot at North Albion Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke when it is alleged that a dark pickup truck drove up and two suspects got out and began shooting at the group before fleeing.

Toronto police reported that they located five victims suffering from gunshot wounds, four other people present in the parking lot were not injured. At the hospital Delroy “George” Parkes, 61, of Vaughan, was pronounced dead  while Seymour Gibbs, 46, of Toronto died a few days later. A memorial service will be held on June 29 at Covenant of Promise Ministries Inc. Church of God in North York.

 “Delroy was such a humble and kind-hearted person. I remembered vividly that night he went to his truck, and he gave us some almonds because he was a health-conscious guy.  Any events we’re having, Seymour was the cook, he was loving and kind. Both were peacekeepers,” said Thomas while remembering his slain friends.

Seymour Gibbs

He said Sunday, June 2, was just a regular day and the men were doing what they have done for the past 30 years—playing soccer, chitchatting, playing dominoes, and enjoying their friendship. The group is made up of men from Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but most are from Jamaica.

On June 24, Toronto police announced that a 14-year-old boy had been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.  

For Thomas, the news of the arrest is bitter-sweet. “When I heard it was a 14-year-old, I said, oh, my Lord, a 14-year-old took the lives of two great men. It’s tough, but at the same time you want to make sure that he’s punished somehow. He has to face the consequences of the law,” said Thomas while acknowledging that this is a child that needs guidance.

A news release from the police notes that on June 3 they were involved in a stolen vehicle investigation in the same area of the shooting. 

The driver of a stolen truck collided with an empty parked vehicle and attempted to flee but was arrested after a short foot pursuit. The 14-year was apprehended following the chase. He was scheduled to appear in court on June 24.

Thomas wants the Black community to organize a town hall meeting to talk about addressing violence in the area.

He believes youth, like the boy arrested, need counselling and he would like to see the community and government work in partnership to offer them mentoring.

Thomas said many young people have passed through their soccer group mentorship and are doing well for themselves. “We show them love, show them kindness, to stay out of trouble always. And then to see this happen now in front of our eyes to us, knowing that we’re not on that path of wrongdoing, is very sad,” he said.

He is hoping that more will be revealed soon because someone must have supplied the suspect with the gun.

He said his other friends who were also shot that night— Howard ‘Diamond’ Douglas and Baldwin Thomas—are both doing well but they still live with the trauma.

“I’m doing good day today,” said Thomas who has a bullet lodged in his thigh and was told by his doctor that it would be detrimental to remove it. He will have to live with it there for the rest of his life. He must attend regular checkups and physiotherapy, and mentally come to the realization that a bullet is in his body.

The police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or at