It’s a reward big enough to be called “significant and rare” by Toronto police — and it’s just about to expire.
For the last year, investigators have been offering a $50,000 reward for information on the shooting death of Kiesingar Gunn, who was shot in the eye in front of the Forty2 Supperclub in Liberty Village on Sept. 11, 2016.
Police say at least 20 people saw the shooting, but so far, no one has come forward with any legitimate tips for an arrest.
Det. Leslie Dunkley of Toronto police told CBC News the funds for the reward were approved by Chief Mark Saunders last year, but they automatically expire next month.
“It’s been one year, so if we’ve had no additional tip come forward there would be no reason to extend the reward,” he said.
Police said Gunn was not the intended target of the shooting, but had rushed to help a friend in an altercation happening outside the club.
Video surveillance of the area shows people who police say were in front of the club at the time of the shooting, which was not captured on camera.
Dunkley said in the eight years he has been working in the homicide unit, he can only recall one other instance where police offered this kind of cash for tips. There had been optimism for leads in the case, he said, given the public nature of the crime and the witnesses who saw it.
Rewards and cold cases
Gunn’s photo is included on the rewards section of Toronto police’s website, along with 19 other homicide victims dating back to 1980.
There’s also a long list of cold cases on the service’s website — though Dunkley said Gunn’s death doesn’t meet the criteria, and is still an active investigation.
“We’re not at that stage at this point,” he said.
In a recent interview on CBC Radio’s As It Happens, Gunn’s mother, Evelyn Fox, said, “I try to keep hope that someone who witnessed will come forward and you know, at least give us some closure.”
Her interview came in the wake of a spate of gun violence in the city.
Her son was a hardworking, dedicated father who “went out for a night of fun,” Fox said.
“If you think that you’re exempt from a stray bullet, you’re not. I can attest to that,” she warned.
Other rewards for tips
When it comes to rewards for information on arrests, there’s a significant disparity between a reward from Toronto police and those offered by Crimestoppers.
The not-for-profit organization is overseen by a civilian board of directors, which Crimestoppers chair Sean Sportun called “a partnership between public, police and media.”
Sportun said the maximum amount that is paid out for tips on crimes that lead to convictions is $2,000.
“Homicides and crimes against children are usually awarded the most for successful tips,” he said.
Tips leading to convictions relating to narcotics offences can range from $100 to $2,000, he said, while firearm recovery is an automatic $500 reward.
Sportun said police usually offer a bigger incentive when investigators believe that posting a certain reward will generate some information.
Though Gunn’s murder happened three years ago, time and a “guilty conscience” or being “removed from the situation they were in years prior” sometimes makes eyewitnesses feel safe to come forward, Sportun said.
But for Fox, the passing of time is irrelevant.
“It’s very mentally exhausting, she said. “Mentally and emotionally exhausting. I feel very overwhelmed at times.”
Despite the passage of time, Dunkley says he remains optimistic tips will come in, even though the reward is set to expire in a few short weeks.
And he is still offering assurances to Gunn’s family.
“We’re not giving up on this homicide investigation.”