Suspect arrested after mayoral debate cancelled over alleged threats


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Suspect arrested after mayoral debate cancelled over alleged threats
The hunt is over for a man, 29, who allegedly threatened to shoot mayoral candidates

Author of the article:Chris Doucette
Published Jun 01, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

A man was arrested after a person allegedly brandished a gun in East York and threatened to shoot mayoral candidates, leading to the cancellation of Thursday night’s debate.

Toronto Police said that officers responded to a call regarding someone uttering threats in the area of Mortimer Ave. and Greenwood Ave. Thursday at about 10:45 a.m.

“It is alleged that a man entered a location and made threatening remarks about shooting Toronto mayoral candidates,” Const. Victor Kwong said. “The man brandished what appeared to be a firearm.”

Junior Francois Lavagesse, 29, of Toronto was wanted for threatening bodily harm, carrying a concealed weapon and weapons dangerous.

Toronto Police tweeted Thursday night that a suspect was arrested and they would issue an update on Friday morning.

The threat was serious enough to prompt some candidates to pull the plug on scheduled public events, including the debate.

“Earlier today my campaign was made aware of a death threat made online towards my fellow mayoral candidates and me,” candidate Brad Bradford tweeted Thursday afternoon. “My family and campaign team are safe. Thank you to the security team at City Hall and Toronto Police who are keeping everyone safe.”

“My campaign will pause public events until the suspect is apprehended.”

Candidate Josh Matlow also took to Twitter to comment on the “serious threat.

“We have closed our campaign office until the police advise that the suspect has been apprehended,” he said. “I have also told the organizers of tonight’s debate that we will not be attending given the risk to public safety.

“Debates are a very important part of our local democracy and we will work closely with the organizers, and other campaigns, to reschedule at the earliest opportunity and when it is safe to do so.”

Candidate Mark Saunders also pulled out of Thursday night’s debate because of safety concerns.

Candidates Anthony Furey, Mitzie Hunter and Olivia Chow all issued statements about the threat.

“We strongly condemn any and all forms of violence, as well as any threats to the democratic process,” Furey said. “We will continue our busy schedule of canvassing and meeting with people across the city.”

“Thankfully no one has been hurt and we have complete faith that the Toronto Police will quickly and safely apprehend the person in question,” he added.

Hunter also thanked the police for their handling of the “credible threat” before explaining her campaign activities were temporarily on hold.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of volunteers and the public, I have suspended the remainder of my campaign activities for today,” she said. “I will re-assess campaign events Friday, taking advice from Toronto Police Service.”

Chow acknowledged the threat was “unsettling” for those vying for the city’s top job.

“Like you, we are still learning more and I want to assure you that my family, my campaign team and volunteers are safe,” she said.

The threat ultimately led to the cancellation of the debate at OCAD Auditorium, which had been organized by the Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations and the Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations.

Police provided an update Thursday night saying the threats occurred at a public location and no candidates were present at the time.

“It was just a blanket threat,” Const. Alex Li told reporters, explaining there were no particular candidates who were specifically threatened.

Because it is an “ongoing an active investigation,” Li said he was limited in the amount of information he was able to reveal.

On Twitter: @sundoucette


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Man faces weapons charges after alleged threats to Toronto mayoral candidates
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Jun 02, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read

Toronto mayoral candidates were back on the campaign trail Friday after a man who allegedly threatened to shoot them was arrested and charged.

Police say the 29-year-old man has been charged with two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon and one count of carrying a concealed weapon after he allegedly threatened to shoot the mayoral candidates.

Police later confirmed the alleged weapon was a pellet gun.

The charges against the Toronto man announced Friday morning also include uttering threats and failure to comply with a court condition.

A debate was cancelled and several candidates paused their campaign activities Thursday after police reported a man allegedly entered a public location in the city’s east end, threatened to shoot the candidates and then brandished what looked like a gun.

Police called it a blanket threat, not targeting any specific campaign, and say the location was unrelated to any candidate appearances.

The mayoral byelection is scheduled for June 26.


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Accused in mayoral candidate threats once said he'd escaped 'thug life'
Junior Francoise Lavagesse was featured in 2014 Globe article as “a youth leader, hip hop artist and entrepreneur in Toronto."

Author of the article:Jane Stevenson
Published Jun 02, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

Who is Junior Francoise Lavagesse a.k.a. rapper Jae Lejit?

He’s the 29-year-old Toronto man who allegedly threatened to shoot mayoral candidates in the mostly residential area of Greenwood Ave. and Mortimer Ave. on Thursday morning around 10:30 a.m.

Lavagesse is now charged with two counts of weapons dangerous (police say a pellet gun was recovered), and one count each of carry concealed, utter threats and fail to comply recognizance (the latter after being charged in a sexual assault case back in the spring according to other media reports.)

He’s certainly come a long way down from the promising 20-year-old featured as “a youth leader, hip hop artist and entrepreneur in Toronto,” in a 2014 Q&A feature in the Globe and Mail.

Lavagesse said back then he had a tough childhood as one of seven children with Haitian parents growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Brooklyn with a single mom after his father left when he was seven years old but claimed he had “turned his life around.”

He graduated in November 2013 from the Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young Leaders (CITY), a United Way leadership program for youth, and founded 16 Bars Hip Hop a free workshop for young people in Flemingdon Park, Thorncliffe Park, Victoria Village and O’Connor neighbourhoods.

At the time, Lavagesse claimed he’d escaped “thug life,” due to hip hop, community youth organizations and his mentors.

“I grew up surrounded by violence, trauma, drugs and discrimination in my school and neighbourhood,” he told the Globe in 2014 of Brooklyn.

“I was a timid and closed-off kid, and wasn’t interested in school or studying. At school, I was physically and verbally violated by boys my age. They’d call me derogatory and racist names … People made fun of the way I dressed.”

Lavagesse said his mother moved the family to Toronto when he was 15 and he went to Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Flemingdon Park but “got caught up in gang violence, robbery and selling drugs again because of the lack of money. Acting out was a way to relieve my devastation and feelings of being mistreated and abused by society.”

Const. Victor Kwong told reporters on Friday morning that Lavagesse was arrested at 42 Division in Scarborough around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

“The place where he made the alleged threat at, it doesn’t have anything to do with the mayoral candidates but I will not be going into any further detail because as you may be able to appreciate, it’s a place that two of our witnesses are at,” said Kwong.

Kwong also said there was a second police investigation into online threats made against the mayoral candidates believed to be made by the same suspect.


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Man accused of threatening mayoral candidates out on bail again

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published Jun 07, 2023 • 3 minute read

Junior Francois Lavagesse was arrested on June 1 for allegedly brandishing a weapon earlier that morning, while making threats about shooting candidates running for mayor in Toronto.

Pretty serious stuff. Not to mention that the 29-year-old is already facing a charge of sexual assault from March. Now he’s facing two counts of weapons dangerous, carrying a concealed weapon, uttering threats and failing to comply with recognizance — suggesting he’s allegedly breached one of his conditions while already out on bail.

The threats allegedly uttered in the Greenwood and Mortimer Aves. area last week were deemed serious enough that many candidates cancelled their public events, including a debate planned for that night. Only later did police confirm that the suspected weapon was a pellet gun.

A serious threat of violence is made against the leaders of our city and yet no sooner can you say the phrase “catch and release” and Lavagesse is already out on $1,000 bail.

Not surprisingly, the revolving door of justice caught some mayoral candidates by surprise.

Former police chief Mark Saunders offered a rueful chuckle when informed of the news by an assistant. “Of course, he is,” Saunders said in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

“On charges of sexual assault and now he’s got new criminal charges and the best decision is to put him back out again?”

That’s why he’s been pushing for bail reform, he said.

“When you think about some of the victims, like women in domestic violence, when they get let out and create other crimes and they’re out within hours of the offence, that’s a problem with our justice system.”

Brad Bradford also went to Twitter to express his frustration after Toronto Police called with news that morning that Lavagesse had been released. His conditions reportedly include living under house arrest with his surety in Scarborough.

“This is nothing new … it’s emblematic of a story that happens time and time again across the city,” he complained.

“Violent offenders are out on bail in our communities and there are very few checks and balances to keep folks safe.”

Bail reform has been a hot topic this spring with rising crime on the TTC and the shocking murder of an OPP officer, allegedly by a suspect who was out on bail. In April, Doug Ford announced $112 million in funding to fix Ontario’s “broken bail system” through dedicated police bail compliance teams.

“Over the past two years, 17% of people accused of gun murders right here in Toronto were out on bail for other firearm charges. That’s unacceptable. It has to stop,” Ford said.

Last month, Ottawa finally responded to increasing demand for change with new proposed legislation that would make it harder for people to get bail who are charged with serious violent offences involving a weapon.

But for the average person before the courts, even if it’s one accused of threatening to shoot politicians when he’s already out on bail for other charges, it’s back on the street they go.

The sad irony is that a decade ago, Lavagesse was founder of a community initiative advocating for the positive power of hip hop. “Just because you grow up in the ‘hood does not mean you have to follow the stereotypes,” he said in an interview at the time.

“In 10 years, I’m going to look back from my mansion – not because it’s a mansion, but because it will truly show how far I’ve come to achieve my goals.”

Instead, he’s under house arrest, looking out from his surety’s home.