A 14-year-old boy is dead after a stabbing in east Hamilton.
On Monday night, just before 10 p.m., police received a call about a disturbance near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Gordon Street in the city's east end just north of Barton Street East.
When officers arrived, they found a 14-year-old boy who had suffered a stab wound. “We know that it was a group of young men who were fighting with another group," Det. Sgt. Matt Kavanagh said at the scene. "The fight obviously got out of control and one of the parties got stabbed and died of his injuries.”
Paramedics took the victim to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Friend Lorraine Lewis told CBC Hamilton the victim was Delta Secondary School student Jesse Clarke. Tributes for the 14-year-old have also poured in on social media.
The accused was also taken to hospital where he was treated for superficial wounds and released, police say.
'I love him to the moon and back and I would do anything to have him back.' - Lorraine Lewis, victim's friend
The stabbing is the city's sixth homicide of the year, police say.
An 18-year-old Hamilton man, Brodie Nicholls, faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with the stabbing. He appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon. Kavanagh said he is "known to police" — but defense lawyer Beth Bromberg told CBC Hamilton that Nicholls has no criminal record and no youth record.
"My client is a very young man, and there's more to this than meets the eye," she said. "We certainly will be defending these charges."
"It is also a terrible tragedy for the victim."
Nicholls appeared in court wearing a white prison jumpsuit and shackles. He spoke very softly when spoken to, and looked down at the floor or closed his eyes during the proceedings. A large, thick bruise could be seen on the side of his neck.
Nicholls was remanded back into custody and will appear in court again on Sept. 2.
Not tied to gang violence, police say
For most of Monday, police cordoned off a large area around the scene, but wouldn't specify exactly where the stabbing took place. Yellow police tape blocked off Lincoln Street, Cavell Avenue and Gordon Street, which forms a loop just north of Barton.
Kavanagh said that according to witness estimates, there were between 10 to 15 people at the scene where the boy was stabbed and the incident moved around the circle of streets between Lincoln and Cavell. Most of the people involved were between 17 to 20 years old, he said.
“That doesn’t mean that all of the people were involved in the altercation – they were just there,” he said. Everyone involved cooperated with police, he added, while downplaying any organized crime connection. Police believe the accused and the victim knew each other.
“I don’t think it’s an organized gang. No. I think it’s a group of people who knew each other – friends more than a gang.” Police don't anticipate more charges to be laid, but Kavanagh said they are still investigating.
Lorraine Lewis, 15, said that Clarke was her best friend. "He was just a really good person," she said. "He had a lot of friends. He was so caring."
"I haven't been able to sleep. I've been up all night. Everyone is really hurt." She said the two dated for a few months, and she lived with Clarke's family briefly. Clarke had lived in Hamilton his whole life, and loved to skateboard and freestyle rap, she said.
"I was supposed to go to the movies with him today," she said. "We all couldn't believe this is happening. I love him to the moon and back and I would do anything to have him back."
One neighbour came home to sirens near his home early Tuesday morning. Donald Mahon told CBC Hamilton "they're only kids, man. They're just kids. Some Mom lost her baby boy."
"It's a family oriented neighbourhood," Mahon said. "A home is supposed to be safe. You're not supposed to go to a buddy's house and get killed. It's not right. It's unjust."
Kavanagh said the victim's family has been notified. "Of course they’re grieving right now. It’s a terrible time for them," he said.
Investigators are asking anyone with additional information on the case to contact Det. Angela Abrams, of the Hamilton police’s homicide unit, at 905-546-4129 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.