Three new men are facing charges in relation to the death of Christopher Skinner as Toronto police round up the six people who were allegedly in the SUV involved in the death of the 27 year-old Toronto man.
The new arrests come after police arrested Agustin Caruso of Etobicoke on Nov 6, charging him with second degree murder, alleging that he drove the SUV that hit and killed Skinner in 2009.
Nicholas Swaby, 23, and Jamaal Bond, 23, were both arrested in Toronto Nov 15. They will face charges of assault causing bodily harm when they appear in court next week. Anthony Samuel, 24, faces a lesser charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. Both Bond and Samuel also face charges of obstruction of justice.
An Etobicoke resident, Bond operates a rap promotion company by the name of Beast Bond Marketing, while Swaby runs Apex TO, a similar operation aimed at hosting rap shows around Toronto. The two promotion companies co-sponsored an event in 2012 called The Laceup Tour at the Sound Academy.
Swaby was a five-time team captain for the Don Bosco high school football team, as of 2008. The team, at the time, was still coached by disgraced Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Swaby was recruited to the University of Toronto team in 2011.
Calls to Bond's cellphone went immediately to voicemail.
Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant tells Xtra that Toronto Police have identified all those allegedly responsible for the death of Skinner.
"I know everyone who was in the car," says Gallant.
Police have now arrested three men who they believe were in the Ford Explorer that night, along with one man, Samuel, who Gallant says obstructed the investigation. Police know the other three — one male and two females — but it's unclear if they will lay further charges.
Police believe Samuel was involved in physically coercing a witness, trying to discourage them from going to the police. His charges of obstructing police and conspiracy to commit assault are related to events that took place over the last year, not that night in 2009.
Gallant confirms that police maintain the murder was not a hate crime.
"That was never on the table," he says.
Constable Wendy Drummond told Xtra that "the investigation is ongoing" but she would also not say if more arrests are forthcoming.
The assault took place after Skinner brushed the side of a parked SUV near Adelaide Street East and Victoria Street as he was walking home from his little sister's birthday party. At just after 3am, an altercation ensued and Skinner was beaten and left on the side of the road. The driver of the SUV then ran over Skinner with the front and back tires, killing him.
Despite the seemingly unprovoked nature of the attack, police said they do not consider the attack a hate crime. Police told Xtra that there was no way for Skinner's attackers to know his sexuality and therefore it was likely not a factor. Drummond also confirmed that this is still the case following today’s arrests.
Until last week, police had not charged anyone in the crime, leaving friends and family of the victim frustrated. A website —FindChrisKiller.com —was created to encourage those with information to come forward and to put pressure on police to devote resources to the case. As the fourth anniversary of Skinner's death, Oct 19, came and went with still no arrest, the group posted on its Facebook page:
"It feels like October 18th. All the days feel like October 18th. We continue and we move on – but nothing changes the way we feel. I can always guarantee the middle of April will feel like October 18th."
Police made annual appeals for information about the vehicle involved in Skinner's death, or any of its occupants, to no avail. Until this year.
But the $150,000 reward for information may remain unclaimed. Police have expressed their disappointment that nobody involved in the crime came forward during the four-year investigation. Drummond confirmed to Xtra that the arrests were made based on information obtained by police, not from tips submitted by the public.
Many have expressed surprise that the six carried on with their lives for four years, knowing that they were involved in Skinner's death. Caruso, according to the Toronto Sun, had been attending Humber College and playing in a hockey league.
Xtra is following this story.