'Unacceptable:' 2 dead, 2 injured after early morning shooting in Hamilton

The Major Crimes Unit investigation is looking for one suspect, who it says entered the bar and started firing shots.

The shooting was at The Urban Lounge, beneath Sam's Hotel and Tavern on Barton Street East early Sunday

A heavy police presence is in the area of Barton Street East and Chestnut Avenue after a shooting killed two people and sent two others to hospital. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

A man walked into a bar and fired multiple shots, killing two people and wounding two others early Sunday morning at the Urban Lounge on Barton Street East and Chestnut Avenue according to Hamilton police.

Detectives say they are in the early stages of investigating the city's third and fourth fatal shootings of the year.

Officers were called to the lounge, which is in the basement of Sam's Hotel and Tavern, shortly after 5 a.m.

Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk, with the Hamilton police Major Crime Unit, said the suspect is is described as a thin, five-foot-ten-inch tall man in his 30s with short, braided hair. He was wearing dark jean pants with a zip-up tracksuit sweater.

Police believe this man walked in to the bar and started firing shots.

When first responders arrived, they found three men and a woman wounded at the scene before rushing all of them to hospital. A 39-year-old man was pronounced dead on arrival and a 25-year-old woman died later in the morning at roughly 8 a.m.


The other two men, ages 38 and 29, were seriously hurt but are now in stable condition in hospital.

"We're still looking to determine what the relationships between the deceased are and if, in fact, all four victims are related to each other," Bereziuk said.

He adds that multiple people at the bar were coming from Zen Lounge on John Street South after gathering to remember Carel Douse, who was stabbed to death last May.

Rishi Majithia, owner of Zen Lounge, told CBC News about 25 people attended the "celebration of life" for Douse's birthday and started filtering out about 2 a.m.

"It's a shame. It doesn't make sense," he said about the fatal shooting.

Police say the shooting took place in the Urban Lounge, which is in the basement of Sam's Hotel and Tavern on Barton and Chestnut. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Bereziuk said they don't know if any of the shooting victims were at Zen before and police are looking for more people to come forward.

"At this point, we've had one person come forward as a witness, only one. There were dozens, among dozens of people in this lounge last night [and] no one has reached out to us," he said.

He added police are looking into information that a private security firm was hired and the shots were fired near the DJ booth.

Though the investigation is still young, Bereziuk said police are notifying next of kin and say they don't have a motive for the shooting. 

"This type of violence is unacceptable in this city," he said.

Residents heard screams for help after shooting

Huu Hynuh, 62, owns H&H Printing across the street and heard part of the incident.

"It was noisy, people were talking and fighting," he said.

"I didn't hear [a gun shot] but I saw people lying down on the street."

Marija Curcic, who lives in the second floor of Sam's Hotel and Tavern, told CBC News she woke up to screaming.

"She just said 'help, help, help,'" Curcic said. "That is so terrible, when I think about it ... who are you that you can do something like that to kill somebody and not think with your head?"

Curcic added she couldn't get down to help because of the police presence.

She said officers checked on everyone in the hotel, which has roughly 16 rooms. The building, according to a sign out front, rents out single rooms for $65 a night and $300 a month.

Donna Robinson, 67, said the tavern and hotel is normally known for being rowdy but had been quiet in the past year. Still, a fatal shooting in the area doesn't surprise her. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Donna Robinson, 62, has lived in the area for almost two decades and told CBC News that Sam's Tavern has been quiet lately.

"Years ago, it was constantly screaming and you'd hear all this kind of stuff, you'd hear them going home," she said.

Still, a fatal shooting in the neighbourhood is no surprise for Robinson.

"We heard there had been some gangs coming in ... you just hope it's their [issue] and not random because that's when you get scared, when it's someone random," she said.

"The fact they're actually bringing guns ... if they were there having a nice night ...  why do you need to bring a gun?"

Police on scene at Sam's Hotel and Tavern early Sunday. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

Rahim Al-Saaidi, who owns Anytime Convenience store across the street, drove into work to see crime tape lining the streets.

"Shooting and killed people, I can't believe it," the 56-year-old told CBC News.

"I've been here about five years ... I'm patient because this is my family business but this year is the last year for me," he said.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.