Nfld. & Labrador

New details scanty as RNC says Craigmillar Avenue shooting a homicide

The death of 47-year-old Jamie Cody has been ruled a homicide.

Police say suspects have been identified but no arrests made

Supt. Tom Warren is the lead investigator on the case of James Cody, who was shot on Craigmillar Avenue on Sunday morning. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

A brazen shooting on Craigmillar Avenue in the early morning hours of Sunday that took the life of James Cody has been ruled a homicide, but police provided very few new details when questioned Wednesday.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said it has suspects in the death of Cody, 47, of Paradise, but no one has been arrested.

Supt. Tom Warren, the lead on the case, said his team is looking for other vehicles that may have been involved. They would also like to speak with anyone who associated with Cody in the time leading up to his death.

"I'm confident in my investigative team. I'm confident with the actions taken so far. I'm confident that we are utilizing every investigative procedure and technique that's available to us," Warren said.

Warren could not, or would not, say how many officers were assigned the case, how many suspects they have, or how many people have been questioned.

Cody was found dead on the pavement on the west end St. John's street shortly after police arrived around 4:15 a.m. Footage obtained by CBC News from a nearby street captured five gunshots at 4:09 a.m.

"Once officers arrived on scene, a perimeter of the scene was secured. The scene was contained and shortly after confirmed to be safe," Warren said.

There was no one found inside 40 Craigmillar Ave., where police have focused their investigation, when officers arrived. 

There was a heavy police presence on Craigmillar Avenue in St. John’s on Sunday, following the early morning shooting on the residential street. (Paul Daly for CBC)

Considered sending alert

A shelter-in-place order was given to residents on Craigmillar Avenue throughout Sunday. Little information was given to residents as to why they had to stay indoors.

Warren said the street closure was to preserve "continuity of evidence" on the street. 

"It's always concerning with any gun violence, but in terms of the residents I can assure them, the residents of Craigmillar Avenue, we had several marked police units from operational patrol services on scene within minutes," he said.

"Also officers on scene secured this area within minutes and the safety of residents was secured in a timely manner."

Asked why an alert wasn't provided to let residents know there was not an active shooter, Warren said the RNC considered it.

"Within a very short time frame we determined it was not an active shooter situation and we felt at the time that appropriate action was taken," Warren said.

Warren said the policy of alerting residents of serious incidents on social media is continuously being updated and reviewed. 

Warren said he is not going to comment on the weapon.

"I don't want to say anything or disclose anything that will interfere with the integrity of the investigation," Warren said.

Cody, 47, became known in the province when he fought drug charges all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2017 and won. It was a landmark case, one of the first at the highest level to apply the Jordan principle, which states a case must be thrown out if it does not get to trial in a timely manner.

Cody was caught up in Operation Razorback in 2010, which targeted alleged high-level drug traffickers, but he was not originally a person of interest in the case. He was caught with the main target of the operation, and police said he had a kilogram of cocaine in his vehicle at the time.

The charges were tossed after five years of delays to get a five-day trial.

James — known to friends as Jamie — Cody, 47, was killed Sunday morning in St. John's. (Submitted photo)

As CBC reported Tuesday, Cody's Jeep Cherokee, with its driver's side door left open, was parked outside the house of Kurt Churchill on Craigmillar Avenue. His body was found a short distance up the street.

Churchill has his own checkered past with police and prosecutors. He was arrested in 2013 as part of another high-profile drug bust, but was acquitted of the charges for the same reason as Cody in 2017.

Police have not confirmed what, if any, connection Churchill has to the homicide.

Warren said there is no information to suggest at the time that the homicide was linked to the drug trade or any other past crimes. However, he said it is an active and fluid investigation. 

"The persons are known to each other, but I'm not going to provide further information as to how we know that. But we will be providing continuous updates as they become available," he said.

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Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.