Friends remember Toronto teen shot and killed on visit to Jamaica

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The basketball court where Ricardo Williams used to play won't be the same.

"Here without him, it just feels like something's missing," Keyshon Martin said of Ricardo, the 14-year-old Toronto boy who was killed in Jamaica early Sunday morning.

Keyshon, also 14, met Ricardo on the court at Alexander Stirling Public School, near where he lived in West Hill, a neighbourhood of Scarborough in Toronto's east end. On Monday afternoon Keyshon and four other boys shot hoops in Ricardo's honour. They described him as competitive but goofy player. "Like a Jennifer Lawrence, but guy version," said another boy, 11-year-old Kersi Buaksa.

He made everybody laugh, but stood up for friends when they needed him. Justin Humphrey, 14, experienced both those qualities on the court, where he played with Ricardo and another friend, 14-year-old Shaunae Brown.

"There was one time, me, him and Shaunae were playing basketball and these other two 20-year-olds came and ... they started being rude, so Ricardo stood up for all of us and told the guy to move on," Justin told The Globe and Mail over Facebook messages.

"He was always there for me. Even though we weren't that close ... he would stick up for me and defend me," Shaunae said on the phone.

Shaunae learned about Ricardo's death while her mother was watching the news Sunday night.

The boy was at a wake in Kingston, Jamaica, when shots rang out at 1:51 a.m. Sunday. He was found by police "suffering from gunshot wounds," Inspector Ishmale Williams (no relation) of the Jamaican Constabulary Force said over the phone Monday. "He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead."

Insp. Williams couldn't say how many people were at the scene when officers arrived or if Ricardo's parents were also in Jamaica at the time. He said police have identified a person of interest, Omar James, who is also known as "Judge" and is from the area where the incident happened. He was asked to present himself to police Monday to provide information, the officer explained. He couldn't say what relation Mr. James had to Ricardo, but the two are connected on Facebook.

Friends paid their online tributes to Ricardo in statuses, doting RIPs and fond memories. Nikolas Asuad called losing his best friend "the hardest thing ever" in a status posted to his timeline. He recalled listening to music, playing basketball together and hanging out at each other's houses - even getting arrested together for stealing pizza once.

But he "wasn't a bad kid," Kae Smith, 16, a friend from school told The Globe on Facebook. "Yeah, he got into trouble but it wasn't anything serious."

Ricardo moved to Canada with his father, Dane, in Grade 7 and attended Military Trail Public School. He was an only child and would visit Jamaica often to see his mother, family friends said in Scarborough on Monday.

"I'm still in shock. I don't understand why. What would convince anybody to want to kill this little 14-year-old kid? What could he have said? What could he have done?" Shannon Dorsey, a friend of Ricardo's father, said on her stoop.

"Everybody that he came across, they loved him after the first moment of meeting him."

Ms. Dorsey said she hadn't heard back from the father, who was in Jamaica as well. She read a status he posted 23 days ago about his son: "Just me and my son. I love him. He has my back for life and God is guiding me." She is organizing a vigil in his honour Saturday evening.

Ricardo switched schools over the winter from West Hill Collegiate Institute to Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute, where Kae says he immediately made many friends. Junaid Chandler, 15, is one of them. He met Ricardo - "one of the funniest bruthas I've ever met" - in drama class and would see him every day at school.

"This guy was loud and fun, and seriously enthusiastic. And, at times, he would play extremely loud music out of the computer," Junaid said. Despite being a "handful" to teachers, even they laughed at some of Ricardo's jokes, he added.

Sean Green, 15, met him in Grade 7 and kept playing basketball with him after moving to Oshawa, when he'd come visit his grandmother in Scarborough. Monday evening, he played on another court nearby in West Hill.

"When I'd come back here, I'd always see him at the courts over there. Now he's not here no more. ... I can't believe he's gone."

A spokeswoman with the Department of Foreign Affairs said Canadian consular officials in Kingston are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information. "[They] are providing consular assistance to the family as required," Diana Khaddaj said.

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