EDMONTON â€” A man was found dead behind the wheel of a parked car Sunday after gunshots rang out behind a row of businesses near downtown.
Someone who saw the dead man’s body told The Journal he recognized the victim as a member of Edmonton’s Somali community.
Just after 1 p.m., citizens reported hearing gunshots and called officers to a commercial building at 10610 105 St., said Edmonton Police Service spokesman Dean Parthenis.
“When police arrived, they found a deceased black male in the driver’s seat of a tan-coloured sedan,” Parthenis said.
“When officers arrived on scene, no one else was in the vehicle.”
Homicide detectives and members of the forensics unit worked at the crime scene throughout the afternoon.
Some officers went door to door interviewing people in the neighbourhood.
Police cordoned off the area around the building, including its north parking lot and an adjoining alley.
The three businesses in the building–an African restaurant, a halal meat shop and a laundromat–were closed while officers spoke to witnesses and worked to determine if the building’s surveillance cameras recorded any useful evidence.
By late in the afternoon, police had no information about suspects and no motive, Parthenis said.
The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm the man’s identity and cause of death.
A witness who didn’t want to be named told The Journal that three men shot another man sitting in a vehicle behind the building.
Police could not confirm reports from several people that three men fled the scene after the shooting.
“It will be the role of homicide-section investigators to determine the validity of the information and whether or not this witness information was something they heard (second-hand) or something they witnessed,” Parthenis said.
Early in the afternoon, a body could be seen in the driver’s seat of a tan Mercury Grand Marquis parked behind the back door of the A&S Laundromat.
Mohammed Mahmoud said he parked his car near the Mercury, which was running, when he arrived at the building to pick up food from the African Safari restaurant.
Mahmoud said he initially thought the man was asleep, but a witness later told him the man was dead.
“I looked in (the car) well, and I saw the blood and everything,” Mahmoud said. “I saw the witness and he told me three guys killed him. He told me three guys killed him and they ran.”
Mahmoud said he recognized the dead man as a person from Edmonton’s Somali community who was a regular customer at the restaurant, which specializes in Somali cuisine.
“I know his face, but I don’t know him personally,” Mahmoud said.
Abida Shakil, who owns the laundromat, said one of her customers came in around 1 p.m. to drop off clothes and told her to go and check on a man in a car parked behind her business. Shakil looked out the door and called police to tell them a man was bleeding in the car, she said.
“I’m really very, very upset,” Shakil said. “I bought this place only four months ago. I’m scared.”
Mahamad Accord, a leader in Edmonton’s Somali community, expressed frustration at the killing.
“Here we go again, here we go again,” Accord said.
“It’s a never-ending issue.” The Somali community has seen
several young men killed in the past few years. Some were new to Edmonton, arriving from other cities such as Toronto.
Police didn’t draw any link between Sunday’s homicide and the killing of 21-year-old Edmonton Somali community member Abdulaziz Osman Isse, who was found dead Nov. 12 on the Beth Israel Synagogue grounds on Wolf Willow Road.
“At this point in time it’s premature to start jumping down any particular paths, but investigators will look at everything,” Parthenis said.
Prior to Sunday’s homicide, Edmonton’s Somalian community mourned the shooting deaths of seven young men from their home country in the past 16 months.
Sunday’s killing was Edmonton’s 25th homicide of 2009.
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