The girlfriend of a Sunderland man that was shot and killed in East Gwillimbury is heartbroken that his memory is being defined by the missteps in his life.
Melissa Perry and Alex Perlmutter dated for more than two years. They have a son together, an adorable nine-month-old named Cooper.
The youngster just started crawling on Thursday (March 28). His father never had the chance to see it.
According to police, Perlmutter was shot a day prior in the parking lot of a business at Queensville Side Road and Highway 48. He was driven from the scene by a witness and died a short time later in the parking lot of a church on the Ninth Line in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
He was only 22.
In the days that have passed, much of the media focus has been on Perlmutter’s various run-ins with police over the years, most notably the alleged theft of three animals from the Elmvale Jungle Zoo in May of 2018 (the case is still before the court).
It’s been absolutely devastating for those that knew him, Perry said.
“We’re trying to focus on the good things – not the bad – but everyone has been trashing his name. He’s not here to defend himself but I will never stop defending him. His family and friends will never stop defending him,” she continued.
“He’s done some shitty things. He knew that and it made him feel horrible. It bothered him that he embarrassed his family. It bothered him that people thought he was an awful person. He wasn’t that person. I knew who he was and loved him unconditionally. That’s how I’m going to remember him. And that’s how Cooper will know him.”
While much of the media coverage has been disheartening, Perry said that some of the comments on social media are nothing short of disgusting.
“There are people saying he deserved this. He didn’t deserve this. He’s the victim. He was murdered. No one deserves to have their life ended like that,” she said.
“People need to remember that he belonged to a family. I lost my boyfriend and the father of my child. My son lost his father. His parents lost their son. His sister lost her brother. Take a step back and realize the hurt you’re causing. We can read every single thing you write.”
Perlmutter will be remembered by his family and friends for his sense of humour and generosity.
“He was such a goofball – always joking around and having fun,” Perry said.
“He also had the biggest heart. He would do anything for his friends and had so many people that loved and adored him.”
She continued by noting that Perlmutter was doing his best to leave his problems in the past, particularly following the birth of their son.
“Being a dad helped turn his life around. It gave him purpose,” she said.
“I have so many pictures and videos of them together. Cooper and his daddy were best friends.”
While the investigation is ongoing, Perry is hopeful that those responsible for Perlmutter’s death are brought to justice.
She credited investigators for their diligence in trying to solve the case.
“They’re doing everything they can to make an arrest. They’re a great group of officers.”
Police believe that there were three male suspects involved who were driving a black SUV.
The first suspect, who was armed with a firearm, is described as a black male, with cornrows in his hair. He was wearing a camouflage sweater and track pants at the time of the shooting.
The second suspect is described as a black male, who is shorter than the other two suspects. He was wearing blue shoes.
The third suspect is described as a black male with approximately the same height as the first suspect. He was wearing a large chain.
Police would like to thank the community for their support and assistance in this investigation, according to a release. Police have reportedly been receiving many calls and tips from members of the public and are following up on those leads.
“Anyone who may have seen or heard anything in the area is asked to contact police. Investigators are also appealing to any nearby businesses or residences that may have video surveillance, or any drivers who may have dashcam footage to please come forward,” reads the Thursday release.
Those with information on the case are asked to contact the Homicide Unit by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling by calling 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7865.
Anonymous tips can be left through Crime Stoppers online at www.1800222tips.com or by 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).