Hundreds gathered at Hamilton city hall on Saturday to mourn and pay their respects for 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi, who police say was shot to death last Saturday while trying to help an older man in a confrontation with two younger men.

The vigil held by the Al-Mostafa Islamic Centre began around 6 p.m. inside council chambers.

It began with the playing of both the Canadian and national anthem of Iraq.

The mosque invited family, friends and community members.

Yosif Al-Hasnawi's father, Majed Al-Hasnawi

Yosif Al-Hasnawi's father, Majed Al-Hasnawi, thanked the audience for attending his son's memorial. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Al-Hasnawi's father, Majed Al-Hasnawi, thanked the audience for attending his son's memorial.

"It means a lot to us," said Al-Hasnawi. "This memorial service gave me lots of strength," Al-Hasnawi later told reporters.

His funeral was held at the mosque on Tuesday night.

Mustafa Ghawi grew up with Al-Hasnawi and knew him for 12 years. On Saturday, he told CBC that Al-Hasnawi was a "really good kid."

"He always had good in his heart. It's just sad to see him go so unexpectedly. His death could have been avoided," said Ghawi. "He's a hero to all of us."

Amal Alzurufi

Liberal MP for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, Filomena Tassi pays her respects to Yosif Al-Hasnawi's mother, Amal Alzurufi Saturday at the memorial for her son held at Hamilton city hall. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Looking for answers 

Various speakers went one after another. Among them was Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

"We know that there's work that needs to be done to deal with some of the questions that remain unanswered, and I can tell you that I will certainly do everything that I can that's in my power to help get to the answers that people are wanting," said Horwath.

The province and city are investigating the actions of paramedics who answered the call. Witnesses say paramedics allegedly told Al-Hasnawi he was acting and that he was shot by a pellet gun.

The paramedics are also being criticized for the length of time it took them to bring Al-Hasnawi to hospital.

Emotion at Al-Hasnaw's memorial

A man who attended the memorial for Yosif Al-Hasnawi gets emotional as he walks away from paying his respects to Al-Hasnawi's family. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Hamilton police Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk said Thursday paramedics arrived on scene at 9:01 p.m. and departed for the hospital at 9:39 p.m.

"I begged him, please take my son," Al-Hasnawi said he asked paramedics.  

Al-Hasnawi told reporters he believes his son may still be alive today had he been brought to hospital sooner. "I'm from the medical family and I hear the stories," said Al-Hasnawi. "I need justice."

Hamilton police say Al-Hasnawi became involved in a confrontation between an older man and two people after he left the mosque near Main Street East and Wentworth Street South on Dec. 2. He was shot just after 9 p.m. 

Crowd at the memorial

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday night to pay their respects for Yosif Al-Hasnawi. People found space to sit and stand outside of Hamilton council chambers, which was filled with people. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

The mosque has set up a bank account for donations to Al-Hasnawi's family to help with funeral expenses and returning his remains to their native Iraq. The remaining funds will be go a Brock University scholarship fund in Al-Hasnawi's name.

The fund is called the Yosif Al-Hasnawi Trust. It's at Scotiabank, branch transit number 55236, account number 55236 01194 15.

Al-Hasnawi says he'll be the only one from the family going to Iraq once the paperwork is complete.

Canadian and Iraqi flag

Children hold Canadian and Iraqi flags during Saturday's memorial at city hall for 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnaw who was shot and killed Dec. 2. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with his death. Dale Burningsky King appeared in court on Friday morning on a charge of second-degree murder. He was not granted bail.

With files from Samantha Craggs