Calgary

Calgary gang suspect Talal Amer denied bail while witnesses in protection program

Witnesses who say they were kidnapped, beaten and threatened to secrecy appear to have cracked the case of a shooting in Calgary that nearly killed a man.

Talal Amer was allowed to travel to Lebanon while on bail this summer

Talal Amer faces eight charges stemming from a shooting in a northeast parking lot in January that left one man with serious injuries. (CBC)

Witnesses who say they were kidnapped, beaten and threatened to keep quiet about the secrets of alleged gangsters appear to have cracked the case of a shooting in Calgary that nearly killed a man.

Talal Amer, 22, was denied bail Thursday. There was no publication ban at the hearing where prosecutor Bob Sigurdson outlined some of the Crown's case against the young man believed to be involved in organized crime.

"From January through to November, it appears there has been a certain amount of gunplay, which Mr. Amer has been involved in," said Judge Gerry Meagher.

Calgary is in the middle of a gang war involving mainly young men of Lebanese descent, many of whom were born in this city and went to high school together. 

Amer's latest charges stem from a near-fatal shooting that took place in January but it wasn't until two witnesses came forward to police in November that the eight charges were laid.

Both witnesses have provided sworn statements to police and at least one is in the witness protection program, according to Sigurdson.

The witnesses told police they were with Amer and Redear Kadir-Shahwan in January when both opened fire on two men in a parking lot of a strip-mall in the city's northeast. Kadir-Shahwan is accused of hitting one who was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition.

The witnesses told police Amer also took three to five shots at the victims as they were driving away but did not hit anyone. For that reason, a charge of discharging a firearm with the intent to wound was added today.

Kadir-Shahwan also faces a first-degree murder charge in relation to a homicide last month.

Alleged kidnapping

Six months later, in June, the two witnesses told officers they were "abducted" and taken in a vehicle somewhere outside of the city where they were threatened, beaten and pepper sprayed, according to their statements.

The concern was they would tell police what they'd witnessed in January.

"Apparently that had a reverse effect because they went to police," said Meagher. 

On June 12, officers were called to the community of Penbrooke Meadows, after witnesses reported three vehicles driving down an alley with the passengers shooting at each other. The vehicles were gone by the time officers arrived but several shell casings were found.

Several days later, Amer was charged in connection with that investigation after officers found a handgun and drugs in his vehicle.

In the summer, Amer was allowed to have his passport back and travel to Lebanon to visit family but the judge pointed out the latest batch of charges had not been laid and the witnesses had not yet come forward.

Amer shot 3 times

Amer is alleged to have breached his bail conditions three times — twice by having a cell phone and once for being out past his curfew — a factor in the judge's decision to deny his release.

In November, Amer was injured after being shot three times, including once in the back, near his parents home. 

Court heard today that he had been under "considerable surveillance" in the months leading up to the latest charges being laid.

Amer's father was prepared to post $60,000 surety if his son was released, according to his lawyer Kaysi Fagan. Several family members were in court today, supporting his release.

He has no previous convictions and will appear next in court on Jan. 11.

Police are still investigating the alleged abduction of the two witnesses and haven't ruled out laying additional charges.