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'Still so many questions': Arrest in Joshua Tarnue murder case brings mixed emotions for family, friends

The family and friends of Joshua Tarnue are left with questions following new police developments in the murder case.

The 18-year-old was shot and killed in a downtown Kitchener plaza parking lot on Aug. 13. On Thursday, Waterloo regional police announced the arrest of a 19-year-old Hamilton man, while a Canada-wide warrant was issued for another 20-year-old Hamilton man.

Habiton Solomon is wanted for second degree murder in relation to Tarnue’s death. The 19-year-old, whose name hasn’t been released, is charged with manslaughter.

Gapita Sarplah, a close family friend and president of the Liberian Community of Kitchener and Waterloo, is speaking on behalf of the family as they’re still coming to terms with the loss of their son and brother.

Sarplah said the new development in the case brings up a lot of mixed emotions for the people who knew Tarnue.

“In this kind of situation, you wouldn’t really say you’re relieved or happy or glad,” Sarplah said, minutes after getting off of the phone with Joshua’s mom, Evelyn.

“[Joshua’s mom] said she really doesn’t know how to feel because what she wants is justice for her son.”

With the new development in the case, Sarplah said Evelyn feels like a Band-Aid has been ripped off again.

“It’s just been a really long period of sadness. Some days she tells me ‘am I dreaming? Is this really true? Is my son really gone?’” Sarplah said.

“We’re glad that we’re getting towards something, and even though this person is still on the run and still has not been caught and someone’s been arrested which brings a little bit of relief, we’re still hurt.”

Sarplah said the family still doesn’t know the motive behind Joshua’s death.

“There are still so many questions,” Sarplah said.

“Fingers are still crossed because it’s not just about the justice, it’s also about the why. Obviously we know now that they were all young people, but why? Those are just the questions – the why, and the justice, that his mom is really hoping to get some relief from the authorities.”

In an interview Thursday, Waterloo regional police said they couldn’t disclose a motive in the murder.

“It’s part of our investigation. I wouldn’t want to get into motives at this time because, essentially, it’s part of the court process going forward and there will be court disclosure that will take place and some of that information will be relayed to the courts at the appropriate time,” Insp. Kyle Lambert said.

Lambert also thanked the members of the public who came forward, and the people who knew Joshua, for their support during the investigation.

“I want to recognize the family of Mr. Tarnue, who showed us a lot of confidence and support in the process - his mother, Evelyn, and his father, Gabriel. And I also want to recognize the Liberian community who showed a lot of support in the process,” Lambert said.

Sarplah said it’s been a very challenging time for everyone who knew Joshua since his death, but particularly his mother. Sarplah said Evelyn has been trying to strike a balance between giving police room to conduct their investigation, and calling them for updates.

“Every time you have to get information, or ask questions about a little boy being murdered, it just brings back the full memory of everything that’s happened,” Sarplah said.

“No mom wants to go through that kind of questioning.”


As Tarnue’s family and friends wait for more answers and arrests, they’re focusing on all of the positive memories they have of the 18-year-old.

“Joshua is going to be remembered as someone who barely said a word, but loved to cook and be with his friends,” Sarplah said.

“Those are the memories that we’re going to remember about Joshua as we go through the mourning process.”

Sarplah said Joshua’s mom, Evelyn, is hoping to open a soup kitchen in Joshua’s memory to pay tribute to her son who loved to cook and see other people happy.

“Joshua was a good kid. He wasn’t just a kid from nowhere, he was a kid from a family and a community. He was a kid who believed in making people happy,” Sarplah said.

“Joshua did not deserve this. We continue to seek justice.” Top Stories


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