Victims shot outside Ottawa wedding were innocent bystanders: police

OTTAWA — A deadly weekend shooting outside a wedding venue was a targeted attack but Ottawa police leaders said Wednesday they don't think the victims were the intended targets.

Two men were killed and six others injured Sept. 2 when shots were fired just after 10 p.m. outside the Infinity Convention Centre in the city's south end.

No suspects have yet been identified. Ottawa police held a news conference Wednesday pleading with witnesses to co-operate.

"We're imploring people to consider the victims, their families and the community at large who's been affected by this horrific attack," said Deputy Chief Patricia Ferguson.

She said at least 50 shots were fired into the crowd. Two weddings were taking place at the venue Saturday night, but all of the victims were attending the same wedding.

"It is clear that this could have been a much more deadly attack," she said.

Police Supt. Jamie Dunlop said he expects to find the handguns used were illegally smuggled into Canada though conflicting witness reports mean they can't say yet how many shooters were involved.

The dead were identified as Said Mohamed Ali, 26 and Abdishakur Abdi-Dahir, 29, who had both travelled to Ottawa from Toronto for the wedding.

Police said two of the six injured people had travelled to Ottawa from Ohio.

One of the injured victims remains in the hospital in stable condition but the other five have been released, Ferguson said.

Police said they believe this was a targeted event linked to "street level" activity, rather than a mass shooting intended to kill as many people as possible by firing into a crowd.

Ottawa's homicide unit is investigating the shooting in co-ordination with the guns and gangs units.

Dunlop said Ottawa police have also contacted Toronto police for assistance in the investigation.

"We have a lot of combined units across the province," said Dunlop in the Wednesday press conference. "Because our criminals now don't respect jurisdiction. They don't stay in Montreal, they don't stay in Ottawa, they don't stay in Toronto."

Police said the investigation is in its early stages, with Chief Eric Stubbs calling it "very complex and very difficult."

"The shooting has shaken our city, our communities, and those that live in nearby neighbourhoods," said Stubbs on Wednesday.

"The impact of the shooting on the families and friends at the wedding is tragic and far-reaching."

Dunlop said they can't yet confirm how many shooters were involved, which is why they need to hear from more witnesses, both those at the convention centre and others who live or were at restaurants nearby.

"We have conflicting evidence, conflicting accounts and that's the type of thing we want to settle," he said.

Ferguson described a chaotic scene as police and paramedics arrived and guests attempted to flee following the shootings. The convention centre, is located just north of the Ottawa airport, surrounded by several hotels.

Yellow police tape and police vehicles surrounded the convention centre on Sunday morning while forensic officers with gloves and cameras dipped in and out of the nearby parking lot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 6, 2023.

Liam Fox, The Canadian Press