For a cynic, the timing of Thursday's announcement by police that murder charges had been laid (finally) in last July's Danzig Street shoot-up couldn't have come off as anything but curious.
After all, Shaquan Mesquito, aka Bam Bam, the 18-year-old who now faces two murder charges in the deaths of Shyanne Charles and Joshua Yasay, has been in police custody since July 27, shortly after the shooting, on threatening charges related to the incident.
Now police say he instigated the shooting: he showed up at the BBQ, was denied entry and then came back, allegedly locked and loaded with fellow Malvern Crew gang members in tow, to exact his revenge on their Galloway Boy rivals who were in attendance. Or, so the police theory goes.
Homicide Squad head Greg McLane didn't disclose what new evidence led police to lay the murder charges, offering the customary explanation that the matter is before the courts and so he couldn't discuss specifics. But the investigation is apparently not over. Far from it.
Along with announcing the charges against Mesquito, police also released composite sketches of two so-called "persons of interest" in the case.
McLane said it's unclear whether the two men were even involved in the shooting or simply witnesses. Police don't have their names. McLane would only say they are seeking the public's help in identifying them.
Another police press conference. Another plea for the public's help. That's been the only constant in the most notorious mass shooting in the city's history. The investigation has now seemingly hit a roadblock.
On Thursday, Chief Bill Blair wasn't the one taking the questions from the assembled media, although he did field a few from reporters in a scrum later. Instead, he stood in the corner of the media room at police headquarters watching intently, affecting a furrowed brow suitable for the seriousness of the occasion.
Blair dropped a bomb in that scrum later. He said he'd been confident "the situation was safe" since Mesquito's arrest in late July, which is why he wasn't overly concerned, he says, for the community's safety as police pursued their investigation.
That detail was perhaps not deliberately divulged by the chief since I did notice him trying to catch himself as soon as the words came out of his mouth. But it slipped scrutiny in the reportage that followed.
The chief's comment would seem to bring into question why Blair would order a massive build up shortly after the Danzig incident, known as the Summer Safety Initiative, if police indeed believed Mesquito was the culprit. The answer to that question is complicated.
But such is the state of police politics these days in the Big Smoke that any announcement by police, or word from the chief's mouth, can't be read as anything but calculated to affect a certain public perception, or send a message to City Hall.
Not surprising when we have a chief who's at odds with an administration led by a mayor who has been trying to cut budgets and freeze hiring. That's another story. Maybe. Except on this week's Police Services Board agenda those issues and the matter of the 2013 police budget will be front and centre.
But back to Danzig. On that, the numbers don't quite add up.
McLane confirmed that a "number" of firearms were involved in the shooting, possibly as many as six, according to several media reports shortly after the incident. This would seem to cast some doubt on the Mesquito charges.
The cops, though, appear to be throwing a very wide net on Danzig, as they did in the 2005 Boxing Day shooting death of Jane Creba, applying a legal precedent that gives them latitude to charge with murder anyone who may have been involved in a shooting, even if they didn't fire the fatal shot. McLane confirmed as much, saying more murder charges could be expected.
But that's the best-case scenario. Right now Mesquito is all the cops have. Whether part of the police tack is to throw the book at him in the hopes of shaking loose the names of others involved in the Danzig violence - Mesquito was also charged with one count of attempted murder and 24 charges of aggravated assault - was left hanging in the air at Thursday's presser.
It happened when one reporter asked at the very end whether Mesquito was known to police - the answer from McLane was yes - and if he'd been "helpful" to them in the past. McLane, of course, wasn't going there.
But despite playing down in the days after the shooting any suggestion that Danzig was gang related, occurring as it did after the Eaton Centre melee, police are now linking the September 2 shooting of a youth in the Chester Le area, and as many as two other shootings, to the Danzig violence.
What's also clear all these months later is the fact that police are not getting the cooperation they'd hoped from people at the party or others in the broader community in their investigation. That despite the force's post-Danzig mass build up, the aforementioned Summer Safety Initiative and outreach efforts in the community.
Back in September, when the numbers were in on that effort, Blair spun it as "irrefutable evidence that cops count." It was proof that when given the resources lives could be saved. An extra 329 officers were deployed into the city's two highest crime areas, including the Danzig community, during the month of August. There were some 50 per cent fewer shootings counted during that time compared to 2011.
That initiative, however, seems to have not had the other desired effect, of opening up channels of communication between criminalized communities and police, despite what's being described as "dogged" and "relentless" determination by police investigators. In that sense, on Danzig, we're right back where we started.