NEWS

Twitter fight partly to blame for Etobicoke students shooting deaths: Report

05/20/2015 10:48 EDT | Updated 05/20/2016 05:59 EDT
A report into the deadly shooting last fall outside Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School blames a Twitter fight among students and a Toronto Community Housing complex nearby for having "drug-activity and gun-related issues." 

But the report stops short of recommending metal detectors be installed in Toronto Catholic schools, citing "practical, social and legal reasons."

The Safe Schools Inquiry Panel Report will be presented Thursday night to TCDSB trustees.

But CBC News has obtained an advance copy.

The report contains 33 recommendations, some of which include teaching students how to use social media responsibly, reviewing students' use of electronic devices in school and investigating "the feasibility of developing a smartphone-based application that would permit students to anonymously report school-related safety concerns."

The report says the mother of one of the slain students proposed the installation of metal detectors and implementation of random searches of students as ways to ensure school safety, but added that "Toronto Police Service and many student representatives appearing before the Panel argued that this not be part of the recommendations, for practical, social and legal reasons."

Zaid Youssef, 17, and Michael Menjivar, 15, were shot during the lunch hour on Oct. 6, 2014, behind an apartment building in North Etobicoke, in the area of Dixon Road and Islington Avenue.

Youssef was a student at Don Bosco while the younger teen attended North York's James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School on Finch Avenue West, 12 kilometres northeast of the park.

Yousef's mother, Jeena Ryad Al-Hisn, has mixed feelings about the report. 

"Why I think they said no (to installing metal detectors) is because I think it's expensive, but I'm sure the metal detector it's not more expensive for my son's life," she told CBC News.

"Seriously, this report is not going to make my son… like they're not going to bring my son back but at least it saves the life of another student," she added.

In a statement, Toronto Community Housing said it agrees that community safety is a collective responsibility "and that is why we continue to work with our city partners, including the Toronto Police Service, to improve the safety of our buildings."

"We welcome the opportunity to work with the school board on community safety initiatives," spokeswoman Sara Levine wrote in an email.

A little over a week after the shooting, police arrested and charged a 17-year-old boy with attempted murder and various weapons offences in connection with the killings. He's awaiting trial.

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