3 charged in Forest Lawn shooting that killed 23-year-old Calgary man

A 23-year-old man from Calgary's Sudanese community was killed by accident over an iPhone and a girl, according to the brother of one of the three men charged with his murder.

Men arrested after standoff in Taradale now face 1st-degree murder charges

Three Calgary men – from left, Matiop Nyok Okich, 21, Akieg Bol, 20, and Benjamin El-Ajak Nyiker, 23 – are accused of shooting to death Abiem Kuol Abiem, 23, on Friday. (Submitted )

A 23-year-old Calgary man was killed by accident over an iPhone and a girl, according to the brother of one of the men charged with his murder.

Three men in their 20s were arrested and charged with murder after a standoff in northeast Calgary in connection with the fatal shooting on Friday that has rocked the city's Sudanese community.

Abiem Kuol Abiem, 23, was found dead in his home early Friday morning in Forest Lawn. Witnesses reported seeing several men running from the residence and leaving in a four-door sedan.

Two of the accused are well known to police. Both were on bail at the time of the alleged murder, and are facing two trials each in relation to other drugs and weapons charges.


The three suspects were arrested late Friday night in the northeast community of Taradale, after a lengthy standoff with officers, police say.

Matiop Nyok Okich, 21, Benjamin El-Ajak Nyiker, 23, and Akieg Bol, 20, all from Calgary, appeared in court Monday via CCTV from the Calgary Remand Centre.

Each is charged with first-degree murder.

Martin Okich, the brother of one of the suspects, said he knew the victim — known in the community as Abiem Akel — and he wants the family to know he is sorry for their loss.

"I feel badly for the victim's family," said Okich, who attended his brother's court appearance. "I feel very sorry for them."

Abiem Kuol Abiem, 23, was fatally shot on Friday in Forest Lawn. (Adaw Wek)

The suspects also each face a charge of kidnapping in connection with a second victim who had been taken against her will during the shooting, said Insp. Don Coleman with the CPS major crimes section.

Martin says the three accused were friends with the victim, and that a conflict between two groups began two weeks ago, when Nyiker was charged with assaulting his girlfriend.

The group of friends also believe that the girlfriend was dating another man at the same time as Nyiker. 

After Nyiker allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, the two broke up. Nyiker and his friends suspected that his mother's house was shot by his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend and his friends. 

'​One person is going to man up and admit a mistake'

Martin believes his brother and the other two accused were at the new boyfriend's home, in an effort to get Nyiker's iPhone back.

He said one of the three shot through a closed door in an effort to scare whoever was inside, but Abiem — an innocent bystander — was fatally wounded.

Court documents also show that a shotgun is alleged to have been used during the kidnapping.

But Martin says that woman is friends with the three accused and was driving them around the night of the homicide because the trio had been drinking.

The three did not know anyone had been killed until they saw the news, according to Martin, who said the one who pulled the trigger plans to tell his lawyer in an effort to take the heat off the other two.

"They don't want to do time for what one person did," said Martin. "One person is going to man up and admit a mistake."

Accused facing four upcoming trials

Nyiker —  who turned 23 on Monday — is no stranger to police. He had two upcoming trials in 2017 for assault with a weapon, drug and threat-related charges, and was on bail at the time Abiem was killed.

A man was found dead at a house in Forest Lawn in southeast Calgary early Friday. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

He also made a first appearance Monday on two assault charges stemming from Nov. 1 and several breach charges.

Nyiker pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for an attack on a fellow inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre in April 2014, during which he punched, kicked and stomped his victim. He was given a six month sentence.

Bol also has two upcoming trials — one in December on a charge of aggravated assault, and another booked for Sept. 2017 on a dozen weapons and drug charges.

Killing was 'preventable'

On top of the murder and kidnapping allegations, Bol made his first appearance on Monday on charges of escaping lawful custody and breaching conditions of his bail, including that he remain on house arrest. Those charges stem from several incidents in October.

Nyiker and Bol, also known as Akiesh Bol, don't yet have lawyers. Okich has retained senior defence counsel Alain Hepner.

On the weekend, leaders from Calgary's South Sudanese community issued a plea for help from the government to prevent young people in the community drifting into a lifestyle of gangs, violence and crime.

But Martin Okich says leaders in his community need to take responsibility and work directly with their young people. 

"This was preventable," he said. "You can't wait for outsiders to come and help you out."