Friends, family and community members gathered at an Etobicoke funeral home Tuesday to pay tribute to international student Kartik Vasudev, one of two men shot dead in Toronto last week in what police are calling “random” acts of violence.
Those who spoke at the visitation told gatherers that Vasudev’s death has been incredibly painful, especially for immigrant communities who recognize the sacrifice it takes to send children abroad to pursue their goals and start a new life.
Many also called for tighter gun controls in Canada to prevent this kind of violence from happening again.
“We just need the justice, I know the person has been arrested, but that’s just the first step,” said Nidhi Vaid, Vasudev’s cousin who he had been living with.
“We have lost our brother,” she told the Star following the service. “I cannot tell you even one fault in him, he was so excited when he came here, he knew what he wanted to do, he had big goals,” she said.
Vasudev, 21, was shot multiple times and killed outside of Sherbourne subway station on Thursday. He had been on his way to a part-time job at a Mexican restaurant.
According to police, the same suspect also shot and killed Elijah Eleazar Mahepath, 35, on Saturday evening. According to police and community members who work nearby, Mahepath had been walking on the north side of Dundas Street East when he was gunned down.
On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of Richard Jonathan Edwin, 39, in both killings. Edwin was arrested Sunday by members of the police Emergency Task Force at his Spadina Road apartment, where he had amassed a cache of legally owned firearms.
He is facing two charges of first-degree murder. Police say they are still investigating motive.
Neither Vasudev nor Mahepath were known to the shooter, police said.
Vasudev had just arrived from India in January to study global business management at Seneca College.
Buses brought dozens of Seneca College students to Wednesday’s visitation, which was organized by the Seneca Student Federation.
The visitation included a Hindu funeral service, including a priest who read aloud in Sanskrit.
“When we start our journey, we leave our families… we want to achieve something and we work really hard,” said Ritik Sharma, the president of the student federation, who spoke about how study can be difficult for international students.
“That’s why students from Seneca and across other colleges, we have all gathered here together… (Vasudev) was one of us,” he said.
In interviews with the Star, Vaudev’s parents, who live in Delhi, said their son had studied for years to be accepted into school in Toronto and was thrilled to be in Canada. They’d taken out loans for him to succeed, they said.
“No parent should have to bury their child. How ashamed I am, as a Canadian, as the president of the college Kartik attended all too briefly, that this horrific crime could happen in this city,” said David Agnew, the president of Seneca College, who spoke to the visitation via Zoom.
“Kartik was the son we all want,” he said, speaking to Vasudev’s academic record and his kind nature, as he was quick to make friends.
Members from the Consulate General of India also spoke about how the shooting has shattered immigrants’ perception of safety in Canada.
Former GTA MP Gurbax Singh Malhi told gatherers he is deeply concerned about safety in the GTA. Vasudev “came here for a better future for himself, and for his family,” Malhi said. “Although we say we are safe, but these days it looks like we are not,” he added.
“I think the government, federal and provincial, they should work together to stop so nothing happens like this, to any family, in the future. It’s our responsibility too,” he said.
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