…in a handbasket
Could the situation get any worse in Toronto?
Man convicted in Taber, Alta., school shooting walks away from halfway house
August 15, 2005
Todd Cameron Smith, 20, is unlawfully at large.
TORONTO — The young man convicted in an Alberta school shooting has walked away from a halfway house in Toronto — five months after being released to the open custody facility amid reports he still posed a risk to the public. Police launched a manhunt Monday for Todd Cameron Smith, saying he was considered dangerous.
“We have concern for the public safety,” said Det. Sgt. Gord Whealy, who was tight-lipped about details of how Smith managed to leave without escort or permission.
“Mr. Smith’s background, by his behaviour in the past, is indicative for the potential for his behaviour in the future and that is where our concern lies.”
In April 1999, the then-14-year-old sawed off his stepfather’s rifle and gunned down 17-year-old Jason Lang at W.R. Myers High School east of Lethbridge, Alta. He also injured another student, but had intended to kill everyone at the school.
Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
He was transferred to the halfway house in March, even though at the time, an Ontario judge agreed the now 20-year-old was not ready for freedom and the Crown argued he still posed a “significant risk” to the public.
At the time, Justice Rhys Morgan said the youth needed a “very slow and supervised transition” back into society via open custody.
The decision followed a joint statement from both Crown and defence based on psychiatric and probation reports that said Smith should be allowed to move to an open-custody facility, but under close supervision and intensive treatment. CTV News reported that Smith man left a note at the halfway house, saying “he wouldn’t be caged any longer — and he wouldn’t surrender alive.”
Smith was a youth at the time of the shooting and could not be identified, but police have received judicial authorization to name him during the current search or until Saturday.
A warrant has been issued for Smith’s arrest for escaping lawful custody.
Smith is described as white, 5’ 9”, 165 lbs., slim build, light complexion, brown eyes, and short brown hair. He wears metal-framed prescription glasses. He was last seen wearing dark shorts and a light coloured T-shirt.
The police require the public’s assistance in locating him. Smith is known to the Durham and Toronto areas.
The Toronto Police Service is concerned for the safety of the community in the Toronto and Durham Region areas as well as anyone who comes in contact with Smith.
Police caution members of the public not to approach Smith if they see him but to contact the police immediately.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is urged to contact 9-1-1, the R.O.P.E. Squad at 416-692-8362, Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at http://www.222tips.com/.