Ottawa police say the double murder at a mall in Ottawa's east end Wednesday night wasn't a random act.

Thirty-five-year-old Graham Thomas and Jason Chapman, 31, were gunned down at the Caribbean Exposure tanning salon located at the Zeller's end of the mall.

Police are still investigating what motivated the killings but sources told CTV News that it might have been related to Thomas's past as a high-profile drug dealer in the city.

Thomas was arrested in a major drug bust in 2000. He was then sentenced to two and a half years in jail for conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

He was also set to appear in court next Sept. 17 for charges of assault with a weapon and aggravated assault after he allegedly beat a man with a baseball bat last May.

Thomas was also probation at the time of his death after being convicted of impaired driving earlier this year.

The second victim, Chapman, was convicted of drug trafficking in July 2007. He was also convicted of impaired driving in 2002.

Chapman reportedly was Thomas's driver and worked as a DJ under the name Whiteboy.

Despite his criminal past, residents of the Riverside South neighbourhood where Thomas lived said he was trying to turn his life around.

He lived in the community with his wife, Patti Brunette-Thomas, and their young children.

Thomas and his wife co-owned the tanning salon where he was gunned down.

Both men were without vital signs when paramedics arrived at the Gloucester Centre shortly after 8:30 p.m. Thomas reportedly was shot in the head.

Witnesses at the mall said it was a "bloody scene." They reported hearing multiple gun shots.

"Three shots in a tanning salon," said a mall shopkeeper, who thinks he might have seen the shooter.

"I wouldn't have noticed him. People can walk quickly through the mall," he said. "What struck me was he had a look on his face and started to speed up."

"He wanted to get out of the mall."

Gloucester Centre is located at Ogilvie and Blair Road in east Ottawa. The area has been the scene of gang activity in the past.

The shooting happened on the same day that Statistics Canada reported that the country's homicide rates are at their lowest point in 44 years. The killings are the eighth and ninth homicides of the year.

The Major Crimes Unit of the Ottawa Police is handling the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the unit at 613-236-1222 ext. 5493.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Claudia Cautillo and Joanne Schnurr