The most fascinating report on the Scarborough shooting? On Reddit.

One user scoured the Twitterverse for first-hand accounts of the events

Here‘s the most riveting piece of journalism I’ve read in recent memory. It’s an account of last night’s shooting at a suburban block party in Scarborough, north east of metro Toronto, where a reported 22 people were injured and another 2 killed. It’s the most complete recounting of the incident published yet, containing all sorts of details absent from mainstream media reports. So who scooped the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun and the CBC? Someone calling themself  BitchslappedByLogic, a pseudonymous contributor to the social news site Reddit who created the report solely by scraping Twitter for first-hand accounts.

The result is extraordinary, a near-instant scrapbook of the crime that intimately connects us with the community around it. The young people in the Scarborough community seem to use Twitter a lot. Many of the people whose tweets went into the scrapbook have tweeted over 30,000 times, with average audiences of less than 700 followers. For a gang-riddled community that vilifies “snitching” above all offenses, there’s a lot of loose talk online, most of it written in Caribbean patois-inflected street slang, seemingly intended solely for an audience of close friends, but all of it of course open to the public.

BitchslappedByLogic starts before the party even began, linking to tweets from the party’s host and from folks planning to attend. Clicking the links takes one on a chilling trip back in time, when an exuberant invite tweet went out with an Instagram photo of cognac bottles. At least three people predicted trouble, one of them gravely cautioning her followers: “[tonight] let us not war but party and bullshit.”

Then come the shootings. Five of the victims are identified, with links to their Twitter accounts, filled with the usual banal summertime chatter, tweeted at a lively pace right up until around midnight of July 16.

As soon as the shooting occurs, Twitter lights up with gossip and people trying to figure out if their friends and family were among the victims. BitchslappedByLogic gleans from this some leads on the conflict that led to the shooting, as well as some ominous threats about what’s to come. “This isn’t over,” is the message tweeted in various forms.

Finally, on background, BitchslappedByLogic links to some hip hop videos uploaded to Youtube by the crew on the receiving end of the gunfire. It’s all gangsta braggadocio and Crips signage.

BitchslappedByLogic cites sources that professional reporters would not use–anonymous witnesses providing unconfirmed information. But she deals with this honestly–using the words “apparently” and “assume”  over and over. And the post itself makes no great claims to absolute truth–it collects what has been said by those who seem to have been there, and the reader is free to click onward and investigate for herself.  Many have, and they are filling in more blanks as the comment thread progresses.

The Reddit post has become a resource to mainstream journalists (including me, obviously).  Click on any of the tweets linked to by BitchslappedByLogic, and you’ll find responses from reporters, hitting up the anonymous tweeters for interviews in the hope that the tweets can be converted into the kind of sourced information newspapers will actually run.

As it progresses, the story of the shooting is telling us other stories, about the fragile difference between snitching and tweeting, between reporting and aggregating, between rhyming a threat and shooting a gun.

Follow Jesse Brown on Twitter @JesseBrown




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The most fascinating report on the Scarborough shooting? On Reddit.

  1. “The mass shooting, the worst in the city’s history……..”

    We are moving into a ‘gun culture’….predictable given recent events.

    • Or–and I’m going out on a limb here– criminals will do what criminals have always done: use illegal firearms that seem to be on the market no matter how many emotionally responsive laws we pass. Britain banned all firearms outright except side-by-side shotguns for rural bird hunting, yet firearm related gang violence has skyrocketed since. Their Olympic team can’t even train on their own soil; they have to train in other countries.

      • “yet firearm related gang violence has skyrocketed since”. Britain has always had strict gun control, allowing only shot guns for hunting. There is still less gun violence in countries which control gun ownership like Canada and Britain than there is in the US. I’ve never forgotten holding an AK47 at a gun shop in Asheville, N. Carolina, there was even a gatling gun in the window!
        I find the blatant racism posted here quite shocking having grown up in Britain with perfectly decent people from the Caribbean. That said, in Vancouver, the gang and drug culture appears to be South Asian dominated with Vietnamese involved too and some whites.
        I’m wondering if the increase in gun violence has something to do with the great economic inequity that has been evolving for the last 30 years exacerbated by financial deregulation, free trade agreements and cutthroat capitalism. If you have no chance of a decent life, then life becomes cheap perhaps and power/financial gain worth the risk?

    • To further elaborate (realized I should offer a solution): We should direct that money towards enforcing the laws we already have–laws that are more than enough for any competent police force, if they’re given the resources they need.
      There’s a lot to be said for social programs too. I may not be anti-gun, but it doesn’t put me in with the Wild Rose crowd. Countries like Norway are ahead of the pack, with welfare safety nets that keep people like this from degenerating so far. Hell, they’re arresting their bankers in droves, not bailing them out for breaking or pushing the law; they’ve come out of our self-induced recession ahead of everyone else with no “austerity measures”, and decades ago decided to socialize their oil industry, running it all under a government corporation. They have the highest average quality of life in the world.
      Then again I’ve just been informed that a lot of those countries also have stricter immigration policies, which sucks–but perhaps we should play devils advocate and consider if that has an effect on anything.

      • I don’t think it’s the kind of gun, or use of gun [hunting etc] that’s important, or any social programs….it’s the culture ….the ‘gun culture’…..where people get the idea they’re living in some mythical Dodge City, and can use guns to settle every argument.

        We regard car ownership with such seriousness that you have to be of age, register it, label it, have a license and insurance for it….are constantly watched while driving and must follow a ton of rules of the road.

        Yet guns? Meh.

  2. Remember, this is the fault pro-immigration politicians,
    past and present. They assured us this
    would not happen, they assured us that
    there was only an upside to immigration.
    How is this gang violence improving our economy? Who’s going to want to invest in a war
    zone? The pro-immigration crowd was dead
    wrong. Why should be believe them now
    when they say we need even more immigration?
    The only way we can protect our country is to have an immediate
    moratorium on all new immigration so that at least, things don’t get
    worse. Deporting foreign-born gangsters
    is also a good idea. You’re at your
    computer anyway—e-mail your MP before it’s too late.

    • Stop being silly please.

      • he’s not being silly, this is unimaginable…people tweeting before it happened..looks like the cops will have to squeeze some ‘Hood Rats’ or ‘shorties’ to get their answer. You will wind up killing off your own!

        • Yes, he’s being silly. Nothing to do with immigrants….and don’t talk smack either.

          • and I don’t want to hear about the immigrant shit…my son is half Jamaican, except he’s doing something with his life and not taking them. Devil’s advocate!

          • Hood Rats and Shorties always talk…churp churp! :)

      • oh I’ll talk all the smack I want……who are you defending? Think about this shit. Anyone that tweets is before it happens knows a lot more than they claim. Who are you…a lawyer? shad up!

        • LOL just smack…..from someone who wants to be hip….and cool….and all that.

          There’s a word for white bread like you.

          • yeah it’s called ‘Dough’…know anything about that little Riff Raff?

          • In your case, it’s called high.

            Not to mention stupid.

          • no it’s the fact that a toddler was grazed by a bullet, thank god it was not life threatening….not going to argue with you anymore- wish this never happened. So the question then becomes what is the solution../gun control, more police, more community centers, more accountability as a parent? This is truly a sad day.

          • Yeah, it’s a very sad thing….a toddler for gawdsake…..it is to cry.

            Solution? A combination I guess. Teaching kids ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ for others, teaching them empathy….definitely gun control so we don’t get this ‘gun culture’ where people think they’re in Dodge City and can just pull a gun to settle an argument….better parenting….some goals for young people that don’t involve some video game/TV show/movie crap……

          • Agreed.

            Adam Vaughan’s idea of restricting the sale of ammo is a start in terms of gun
            control (weapons are pretty useless without easy access to ammo). Movies and
            music definitely advocate the idea/lifestyle of being a gangster- perhaps there
            is a greater realm of responsibility that extends to Hollywood and maybe beyond (i.e. media/
            gaming/ entertainment industry). Gangsta lifestyle is proving to present itself
            as a commodity rather than a problem and our youth from all backgrounds seem to
            be loyal followers. This is a huge problem.

          • Yeah, restrict ammo, restrict guns, take the ‘glamour’ out of being a street thug…..make sure kids know it’s not a game with a ‘replay’ button….that dead is dead.

            Hollywood though….when have they ever told the truth about anything?

            Maybe our movies need disclaimers.

    • If we deport all the people descended from immigrants, we would only have Aboriginals left.

      • Wonder where FPSC familys came from.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • yep u reap what you sow.. so its all ur fault in the end..lol

    • Ship them the fk outta here. All they do is collect welfare, sell drugs, kill people and commit violent crimes..WHY are people like this allowed in?? Ship em out NOW!!

      • They’re Canadians…..where do you suggest we ship them to?

    • This is blatant xenophobia. Our country was built on the backs of hard-working immigrants.

    • That’s idiotic. Maybe better screening for criminal history, but seriously man?

    • Foreign born criminals already are deported, duh. Also, the amount of crime committed by immigrants is a tiny fraction of the crime rate as a whole. Furthermore, ending immigration entirely punishes the vast, vast, vast majority of hard-working, productive, investing, consuming immigrants who contribute valuably to our economy (and thus our social programs) and to our public institutions. I don’t know what the solution to gang problems within the Afro/Caribbean-Canadian community is, but banning all immigration is a stupid, self-defeating overreaction and not part of that solution.

  3. Yeah the reddit thing is pretty wild. More info then all the news stations put together. One thing that’s obvious..ALL these partygoers are wanna be gangstas. I wouldn’t wish anyone hard but live by the sword..

  4. *harm* wouldn’t wish anyone harm but when you wanna be a badass gangsta this crap is gonna happen. Seriously, these people need a fkn hobby..shooting eachother is like a fkn pastime for them! It’s whack.

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • Lol this is so racist and stupid. A brutal simplification of the actual problem.

      • Yea dawg. Callin attenshunnz to da race uv da shootahs B rasiss. Deze hurr shootinz B all complicateded an shieet. Dem CIA or sumthin B makin us niggaz do dis. It not our fault mane. Iffn dey juss payz our reperashunnz we B aiite.

        • Dude, learn to freaking spell and stop trying to be all tough gangster! You’re embarrassing yourself.
          The Godfather!! Now THAT is Gangster!

  6. When the liberals changed the immigration code from ten to one Europeans over non Europeans to favor non Europeans on a 10 to 1 ratio in 1991 or thereabouts, this incident became predictable. The politicians should answer – fat chance.

  7. It was just an harmonious multi-cultural community get-together – for the children – that went bad because some redneck in Grande Prairie has a long gun locked up in his basement

    • ‘for the children’ – the children were drinking the booze and partying till after midnight? You are an a$$hole.

  8. I can’t help but think all these black kid that seem to hate society must just love the KKK and the Aryan brotherhood. I mean they ARE doing their work for them are they not? They are killing and dehumanizing the black community racist losers sit back, laugh, point a finger and say “see. I told you so.”

  9. You Canucks are gonna love multiculturalism, particularly when it consists primarily of “Africanus Criminalis.”

    • Does your family have trouble coming up with new names, Earl?

  10. There have been many reporters who have used “unnamed sources” however as for the citizen reporter in this yarn, here is hoping logic’s effort wakes her up!

  11. Everythang iz rasiss! It not our fault. Yall white peepz B shootin up yallz hoodz all da time yo.

  12. To BitchslappedByLogic, the reason why professional reporters won’t use unconfirmed reports by anonymous individuals. is because their credibility cannot be vetted.

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