Masked teen on way to fight
Died in fall from car during chase
Two groups doing battle at Vaughan park
Toronto Star, JIM WILKES, STAFF REPORTER, Oct. 17, 2005
A Woodbridge teen was fatally injured as he and other masked youths armed with weapons chased other teens to assault them, police revealed yesterday.
Pritpaul Singh Dhanoa, 17, died in hospital Saturday, hours after he fell from a moving car and struck his head on a curb along Chancellor Dr. in Vaughan.
York Region police said there was no evidence to support earlier reports that Dhanoa had been repeatedly kicked in the head and thrashed with sticks by up to six assailants in the Friday night fight.
In fact, police said he was among a group of East Indian youths who went to the area near Giovanni Caboto Park, a popular hangout for teens after dark, armed themselves with sticks, bats and pipes, pulled on ski masks and tried to attack a group of teens of Italian heritage.
When the second group fled to avoid a beating, the first group jumped into cars and gave chase along Chancellor, in the Pine Valley Dr.-Highway 7 area.
It was there that Dhanoa fell from a car and struck his head.
Friends put him back in the car and drove to a nearby plaza before calling police for help. An autopsy yesterday showed he died from blunt force head injuries.
"It appears that the intent of these youths was to engage in a confrontation," said Inspector Anthony Cusimano. "Something has obviously gotten out of hand and as a result a young man has lost his life.
"This appears to be normal tensions that appear to exist between groups.
"There's no one underlying reason that has brought this to a head."
Other senior police officers said that although the two groups were split along ethnic lines, there was nothing to indicate the battle was ethnically or racially motivated.
But young people in the area told the Toronto Star the fight was the result of a simmering feud between two groups sparked by a racial slur this summer.
Police would say only that the dispute was the result of "ongoing issues" among the youths.
Relatives rallied around the family of the dead Grade 12 honours student, trying vainly to make sense of what happened Friday night.
Friends left flowers and wreathsbeside the blood-stained curb where Dhanoa fell.
Superintendent Gord Smyth said police are concerned about the way the youths tried to deal with their problems.
"(We're) absolutely alarmed at it, because it's something we don't teach, it's something we don't tolerate," he said.
He said police would do "everything in our power" to ensure there would be no retaliation.
"No one went there with the intent of anyone losing their life," he said. "We have to be responsible for our actions.
"But we also have to send the message that what you do can gave dire consequences."
Vaughan Mayor Michael Di Biase said the death was an "unexpected" result of youthful tensions.
"I am just as surprised as anyone else and sad," he said, adding he was unaware of any racial tensions among youth in his community.
"It's very unfortunate that sometimes youth groups get together and they don't realize that things do happen and can get out of hand," Di Biase said.
"It's sad because it's a young life, something that should not have happened."