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'Let's go somewhere safer': The ironic death of a Mississauga man in Windsor

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The parents of Jason Pantlitz-Solomon are now able to speak freely about the tragic loss of their son.

“When he said Windsor, for us, that was a breath of fresh air that he wasn't going to be here where we thought this is not a good place for him,” father Dalton Solomon told CTV Windsor Tuesday from his home in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Pantlitz-Solomon family lived in Acorn Place, a part of Mississauga they say is a dangerous neighbourhood because of a gang called the Acorn Crips.

“There was a lot of shootings happening,” Alicia Pantlitz said Tuesday from her home in Mississauga which they now believe was tied to gang violence.

“He (Jason) was very vocal that this was just ridiculous, as far as the shootings,” Pantlitz said. “He would speak to it (on social media) ‘what are you guys doing?’ He would post things like, ‘It’s (gun violence) going to change your life.’”

“He was gonna break this mold of — I hate to say it — the wasted talent that we did ourselves in our generation,” Solomon said. “He was going to be that guy to step forward, (to say) ‘look enough of this. We're going to do this (go to University). I'm gonna be that guy and represent.’”

So when Jason wanted to pursue a post-secondary education, Pantlitz drew a map around Toronto and told her son he could anywhere but a school in the GTA.

“Let's go somewhere safer,” Solomon recalls thinking. “He's hours away from all these problems (when in Windsor).”

Pantlitz-Solomon started an undergraduate degree in criminology in 2016. He wanted to be a lawyer.

By the summer of 2018, his mom asked him to stay in Windsor and only come home for special occasions.

Jason Pantlitz-Solomon died on Aug. 27, 2018, after he was shot to death by two assailants.

Court would later hear the shooting was connected to gang violence within the Acorn Crips.

Kahli Johnson-Phillips was convicted by a Windsor jury on Nov. 25, 2023 with first-degree murder.

It’s a relief for both of Jason’s parents.

“I’m happy for my son that there is some justice to some degree, and that our family can really finish that healing process and that closure can really start to happen,” Solomon said.

It doesn’t bring their son back though, and that’s a harder thing to accept they say.

“My son isn't living. He's (Johnson-Phillips) still living his life, even though it's a moderated life (in prison),” Pantlitz said.

In 2019, the University of Windsor created the ‘Jason Pantlitz Rise Above Scholarship’, for students from marginalized demographics who excel in academics.

His family is trying to put the investigation — which took more than five years — and the court case which lasted 11 weeks behind them while focusing on who their son was in life.

“He was the biggest hearted person,” Solomon said. “It's surreal to know that given the environment that he was coming out of that he defied the odds of assimilating to set environments and decided that that was not going to be his path.” 

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