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'Disturbing' Video Shows Gunman

1 Killed, 5 Injured; Police hope grainy images will ID suspect

Chris Wattie And Matthew Coutts, National Post
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

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Toronto police yesterday released a remarkable videotape of Toronto's 11th homicide of 2008, showing a man calmly firing into a group of young men with an abandon that suggests it is a miracle only one person died.

"This is very disturbing. It speaks for itself," said Detective Sergeant Brian Borg, of the Toronto Police homicide squad.

"He simply walked up within 10 feet of the group, got their attention and without warning opened fire. His actions were discriminate and it is obvious that he intended to inflict maximum damage."

Aspiring physician Abdikarim Ahmed Abdikarim, 18, was struck in the head in the Friday night shooting, and died in hospital a few hours later. Five other men were taken to hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. All but one was released by yesterday, and the last injured man was listed in good condition.

All the victims were standing in a recessed doorway of an apartment building on Amaranth Court in Lawrence Heights, an area known as The Jungle. The door behind them was locked, so when the gunman opened fire, they had nowhere to go.

"All six men were struck, some from the very same bullets," Det. Sgt. Borg said. "Abdikarim was struck a number of times and suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head."

Police emphasized that the six, ranging in age from 18 to 22, were not engaged in any illegal activity when they were shot and did nothing to provoke the deadly attack. "They were there to socialize, as they often did at this very location every Friday night," Det. Sgt. Borg said.

Another detective who has worked in the area, speaking on condition of anonymity, speculated that the shooting could have a variety of motivations.

''It could have been a grudge, it could have been an initiation [to a gang], or someone showing off to impress a gang, or it could have been a case of mistaken identity. Wrong place, wrong time,'' said the detective.

Three roses were wedged into the doorway yesterday; notes attached described the 18-year-old, known as Karim, as a "fine young man [who] came up in a cold world."

The teen's father, Ahmed Abdikarim, said little to reporters yesterday, but a friend said the family was obviously heartbroken. "Abdikarim was a great kid, very ambitious, always had a smile on his face," Abdi Warsami said.

Mr. Abdikarim and his wife, Shamso Ibrahim, have six children. The oldest daughter just finished a Masters degree at the University of Windsor, and Karim often boasted about his plan to become a doctor. "He promised his mom he would be successful, even more than his sister," Mr. Warsami said.

Mr. Abdikarim was a soccer player while he lived in Somalia. His nickname roughly translated to "great or complete," said Mr. Warsami, who grew up next to him in Somalia and stayed close when both families immigrated to Toronto during the late 1980s to avoid a violent civil war.

Thousands of Somali-Canadians visited the family home over the weekend, he said. "Any soccer fan who heard this man's son was gunned down felt the family's pain,'' he said.

Mr. Warsami said footage of the killing was difficult to watch. "Their aim is to kill six kids, take six lives. This is not Iraq, this is not Somalia. This is Canada," he said.

A resident of the area, who herself heard the gunshots on Friday night, said she felt sick to her stomach after watching the video yesterday.

"It's getting to be a scary place around here. My heart goes out to the guy who got shot in the head," said Sheila, who was to afraid to provide her last name.

Sheila said gunshots were common in the area after sundown, and arguments more so. She said she heard yelling before the gunfire, but didn't think anything of it. After six or seven sharp gunshots blasted outside her open window, she laid shaking in her bed until she was able to call the police.

"I was scared to look out the window. If I had known what was going to happen, I would have opened the door and let them in," Sheila said.

In the days since the shooting, police have put on extra patrols to reassure residents.

"We have taken measures immediately after the shooting ?There will be an increase [in] police presence in the area," Det. Sgt. Borg said. "There obviously is tension in the area."

Detectives believe someone will recognize the man in the video, despite the darkness and the grainy quality of the images. They are also looking for the second man in the tape, who Det. Sgt. Borg described as someone "believed to be an associate or an accomplice."

"We want to speak to that person and find out what they know ? but at this point his role can't be defined specifically by the video," he said. "[But] clearly he has knowledge of what's happened here and we're very interested in speaking with that person."

A silver or grey vehicle was also seen speeding away from the area after the shooting.

Source: National Post, Mar 18, 2008

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