Amber Alert over after Toronto Police find boy who was abducted over $4M drug debt
The Toronto teenager whose chilling abduction inspired a province-wide Amber Alert early Thursday morning has been found safe, according to police, nearly 40 hours after being forced into jeep while screaming for help.
Police announced just after 11 p.m. on Thursday that the 14-year-old boy had been located and that he was being taken for a medical checkup. Police sources told CP24 that the teen was found inside an "abandoned barn" in a rural area of Brampton, Ont.
Earlier on Thursday, police revealed that they believed the boy had been taken as retribution for his stepbrother's unpaid $4-million drug debt.
The Grade 9 student and longtime church volunteer had no connection to the criminal lifestyle, according to police, and was described by neighbours as a "very sweet," "respectful" and "energetic" young man.
NEWS UPDATE: The Toronto Police have located Shammah Jolayemi, age 14. He is safe and being taken for a medical checkup. A news conference will be held tomorrow / Friday morning at Toronto Police Headquarters. Time is TBC. GO460088 #GoodNews ^ams— Toronto Police Operations (@TPSOperations) March 6, 2020
The boy's stepbrother's drug debt was related to what Toronto Police Supt. Steve Watts called "a multi-kilo cocaine rip." Watts told reporters Thursday evening that the stepbrother had been involved in a large-scale drug theft involving roughly 100 kilograms of cocaine during the summer of 2019.
"Toronto is an epicentre and is a jump-off point for large shipments of cocaine. That's not a secret," said Watts during a press conference.
"I appreciate high-level cocaine business, the situation that faces them, but he's a 14-year-old, innocent child," Watts continued.
"He is not a part of that business, not a part of that lifestyle, and I am saying the full weight of the Toronto police will be brought to bear and we will push forward on this case."
From Toronto Police, Superintendent Steve Watts from Organized Crime Enforcement, explains the details of a drug debt that lead to #ShammahJolayemi being abducted. It involved 100 kilos of cocaine worth $4-million. @680NEWS pic.twitter.com/myRGzuYVUv— Mark Douglas (@Douglas680NEWS) March 6, 2020
Previous to the press conference, police had been looking for a black jeep Wrangler with oversized front tires, but stated that that the vehicle — which they believed to have been used for the abduction — had since been found burned out in a Caledon, Ontario, park.
Witnesses had seen at least two male suspects wearing black jackets and bandanas on their heads pushing the child into a vehicle matching this description around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday near Jane Street and Driftwood Avenue, just north of Finch.
The suspects, both estimated to be between the ages of 18 and 22, are said to have abducted the Grade 9 student on his way to school. The boy was seen struggling and screaming "help me, help me," prompting calls to police.
It wasn't until the teen's parents reported him missing that evening that police connected the cases and eventually issued an Amber Alert.
The child's North York high school has since come under fire for failing to let his parents know that he hadn't shown up for classes until after 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) admitted that their absence notification system failed as the result of teachers not submitting their attendance data before an 11 a.m. deadline. Four teachers at Newtonbrook Secondary School have been put on "home assignment" in relation to the case while the school board investigates.
Investigators are expected to hold a press conference later Friday morning to provide more details about the case, but many in Toronto are already celebrating the boy's rescue.
"Honestly this just made my night," wrote one Twitter user in response to Toronto Police when they announced that the child had been located. "There is divine order in this world. Made me sick thinking that this young kid was still in the presence of these dangerous abductors. AMEN."
"This is such a relieving news. The whole city can breathe easy now," wrote another. "Good job to the good people of Toronto Police!"
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