Ottawa Police Chief responds to weekend spate of gun violence
The police hunt continues for an Ottawa man considered armed and dangerous, after a deadly shooting in a downtown bar Saturday night.
28-year-old Mustafa Ahmed is being sought after 33-year-old Omar Rashid-Ghader was gunned down inside the Sentral nightclub. It was the first of four shootings the only deadly one.
Police cars are still out front of the nightclub; it is still shut to the public as police continue their investigation of Ottawa's latest murder: this one a brazen attack in a crowded bar.
Residents in the area expressed their concern.
“It’s kind of alarming in a way,” says Eric Kalambay, as he walks by the nightclub with his friends visiting from France.
“It’s uneasy for me because I have lived in market since 1988,” says Kristine Edwards, “I love market and I don’t like to see what is clearly gang warfare take effect here.”
The shooting at the Dalhousie Street nightclub happened around 3:30 Sunday morning sending patrons scrambling for cover. 33-year-old Omar Rashid-Ghader, a father of 3, an aspiring rapper and, Ottawa police say, a known gang member was shot multiple times. Within hours, the hunt was on for 28-year-old Mustafa Ahmed who police say has gang connections as well.
“The prevalence of guns has been there for a while,” says Ottawa Police Superintendent Don Sweet, “but the fact they are using them now is concerning and with members of the public in close proximity, that's what really concerns us.”
The murder was one of four shootings within hours of each other. Just after the nightclub shooting, a drive-by shooting on Presland Road in the east end left two people with minor injuries.
Valerie Noble lives across the street and was awoken by gunshots, “It was 3:30 in the morning,” she says, “I heard the shots and thought it was fireworks but it wasn’t.”
A couple hours later, shots were fired inside a residence on Innes Road at an after-party.
“It’s only luck that somebody wasn’t hit at that one,” says Sweet, “because multiple rounds were fired.”
Then, Sunday afternoon, bullets flew from two vehicles near Ogilvie and Cummings. Police are investigating whether any of the shootings are linked.
At the meeting of the Chiefs of Police in Ottawa, Ottawa’s Police Chief Charles Bordeleau says the rise in gun violence is a country-wide concern.
“Most of them gang-related,” Bordeleau said, “and (there is) the propensity and willingness of the gang members to use firearms quicker to resolve their issues.”
Police say it is difficult to get witnesses to cooperate and are encouraging any residents with information to come forward anonymously if they fear for their safety.
The councillor for the area is pushing for more foot patrol in the Byward Market and a crackdown on criminal activity inside certain bars.
Mathieu Fleury says Ottawa Police and the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission were aware of previous issues at the Sentral Nightclub.
“It's tough to tie business use to a drug exchange but people who do go into that location there regularly are known to the police,” Fleury said.
The Police say they will be talking to the owner of the nightclub to make sure he's doing enough to keep the patrons safe here.
Fleury would go one step further. He wants metal detectors in place just like they do in some bars in New York.