Ottawa's police chief says Carlington restaurant is a hotbed of criminal gang activity

Ottawa's police chief says that although he wants to see the Suya Spot on Shillington Avenue closed for good, he doesn't have the power to shut down the criminal hotbed.
The Suya Spot is located in a strip mall near where 26-year-old Abdi Jama was shot to death on Sunday morning. Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau and others call it a hotbed of criminal activity. (CBC)

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau says that while he wants to see the Suya Spot on Shillington Avenue closed for good, he doesn't have the power to do it.

"We don't have the authority to shut a place down. We can lay charges but we don't have the legal authority," Bordeleau said Monday after a violent weekend in which two men were fatally shot — one of them behind the restaurant.

The restaurant in Ottawa's west end is a "magnet" for criminal gang activity, Bordeleau said, adding that the establishment has been selling alcohol without a proper liquor licence. While it's facing numerous charges for various infractions, it continues to flout bylaws, he said.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau says it will take a lot of effort to shut down the Suya Spot, and that it's not in his force's power to do alone. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

At around 6 a.m. on Sunday, emergency crews responded to reports of multiple shots fired behind the strip mall where the Nigerian restaurant is located.

A few minutes later police were called to the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where the victim had been dropped off. Abdi Jama, 26, was later transferred to The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus, where he died. Police say he was a known gang member.

"It's not the first shooting we've had there," said Bordeleau. "We've had a number of serious incidents over the past number of years. Stabbings, shootings, assaults. It runs the gamut." 

Jama's death is the city's 13th homicide of 2016, and comes a day after a man was shot and killed on Elmira Drive.

Some residents in the neighbourhood say the shooting near the Suya Spot has them feeling uneasy about their safety.

"Yeah, it frightens me ... absolutely," said Frank Roche, who has been living in the area for six years. "I'm thinking of moving out of the neighbourhood probably pretty soon." 

Marguerite Dehler, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 10 years, says the restaurant has had a negative impact on the community. (CBC)

Marguerite Dehler has been living in the neighbourhood for a decade, and said the shooting near the restaurant has had a big impact.

"There's a ripple effect throughout the community. Everybody is affected one way or another by the constant ruckus that is in this neighbourhood," said Dehler. 

"People that have to go to work very early in the morning on weekends when they're having their parties get harassed by people that have been inside [the Suya Spot]."

Bordeleau said it will take mounting pressure from the police service, the city, bylaw services and the community to get the restaurant closed for good.