Published:September 8, 2021
Let me put a name and a face to the ongoing problem of violent crime in Toronto and really, straight across the country — Floreano Lopes, a 42-year-old construction worker, husband and father of three children.
He was shot and killed last Friday allegedly by a man Toronto Police say was driving a stolen pickup truck before crashing into the job site where Lopes was working.
Investigators believe the man stole a truck near the job site, hit another vehicle and then a guard rail before crashing into the job site. Lopes was shot as the driver exited the truck — other workers then tackled the driver.
A suspect, Jonathon Kozuch, was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree murder.
It doesn’t appear there was any connection between the accused and the victim. It seems Lopes was shot simply for being there.
Now let’s tell you about the other victims in this story.
Tania, Floreano’s widow, has been described by family friends as his high school sweetheart. She’s also the mother of his three children — Emily, Vanessa and Ethan. Each of them is now a victim as well, losing a husband and a father in a senseless act.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the family — nearly $43,000 raised as I write this. But while that will help, it won’t be enough. No amount of money can replace a loved one taken in a senseless act of violence.
All those shooting stories you read or hear about, all those rising statistics on gun violence, there are real people behind them like the Lopes family.
We’ve become numb to the shootings and violence around us. The stories don’t lead the news the way they used to because they are too common. Often, we will dismiss stories of shootings as gang members settling scores and we are fine with that until one of their bullets claims an innocent life.
We can’t be complacent anymore. We can’t shrug and say that it doesn’t matter or that it’s someone else’s problem. Next time it could be your loved one, your husband, wife or father.
We don’t know much about the 37-year-old man accused of killing Lopes. Investigators have released no details about the suspect but if police have the man who shot Lopes in custody, then it’s hard to imagine this is his first run-in with the law.
What I’ve learned about violent crime is that it is most often carried out by the same repeat offenders, people who go through the revolving door of police stations, courthouses, and back again.
In February 2015, a man named Jonathon Kozuch was arrested by Peel Regional Police and charged with kidnapping and forcible confinement while his associates were charged with the same offences plus weapons charges, although the Toronto Sun does not know the outcome of those charges. The name and age match the man now in the custody of Toronto cops but investigators won’t say if it is the same guy.
What we have in this country is a failure to take crime seriously, to not just arrest those responsible but hold them in custody rather than providing them with automatic bail or a short sentence.
Now a family sits in mourning at the loss of a father, a husband, a brother while the accused appeared in court for a bail hearing this week.
We have a federal election underway right now and crime hasn’t been an issue at all, but it should be. Shootings have nearly doubled in Toronto alone over the past few years, murders are up and once again, it’s the same people working the revolving door.
We need a government that will fight for improvements to the justice system to lock up the repeat violent offenders before we have more victims mourning the loss of a loved one.