Ottawa

No hint Rideau Street bar dispute would turn deadly, manager says

One day after a local football star was shot to death just steps from the front door of the Mingle Room, the bar's manager insists the establishment shouldn't be held responsible.

Mingle Room manager says bar has 'no impact on violence' in neighbourhood

Following a stabbing and fatal shooting in the area, Mingle Room management says the bar does everything it can to ensure patrons are safe. 1:00

One day after a local football star was shot to death just steps from the front door of the Mingle Room on Rideau Street, the bar's manager insists the establishment shouldn't be held responsible.

Ashton Dickson, 25, a former collegiate football star and soon-to-be father, was killed by a single gunshot outside the Ottawa bar early Monday morning.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau told reporters the incident began as a "minor argument" inside the bar before spilling out into the street.

Dickson's death, coming four days after a drive-by shooting and stabbing outside the bar, has led to renewed calls from the community and the area councillor to close the Mingle Room down.

Fight in street 'an argument of its own' says manager

The bar's manager, Ardy Rahmani, confirmed there was an argument between Dickson and another patron over cutting in line, but Rahmani said it had nothing to do with the homicide that later occurred.

"I truly believe what happened outside, was an argument of its own," said Rahmani, who has been managing the Mingle Room since it opened three and a half years ago.

"Prior to the homicide happening, nothing inside indicated to myself or my staff that there was going to be an altercation outside, that there would be a death that would occur."

Ashton Dickson, 25, played college football at St. Francis Xavier and was a finalist for the 2015 Hec Crighton Award, given annually to the CIAU's most outstanding football player. (St. Francis Xavier University)
However, the Mingle Room doesn't have any security camera video that can help police piece together what happened either inside or outside the bar.

Rahmani said after the June 22 shooting and stabbing, Ottawa police officers with the guns and gangs unit — armed with a search warrant — seized the bar's surveillance equipment. Police have not yet returned the video recorder to the bar. However police investigators have collected footage from other neighbouring businesses.

No guns in club, manager says

Rahmani said he's confident the handgun used to kill Dickson didn't come from inside the lounge.

"No one can get through my security," Rahmani said. "People's safety is my number one priority the moment they enter those patio doors. Everybody gets patted down and we do have a metal detector that everyone goes through."

Dickson's stepmother, Khadija Harris, said one of Dickson's brothers who was with him that night told her the bouncers at the bar asked Dickson to leave, and then Dickson was attacked by a group of people.

Harris said she was told there was a gun shot, and he was on the ground.

Officers responding to 911 calls about shots fired around 1 a.m. Monday arrived to find Dickson injured, and the shooter gone. Dickson was later pronounced dead at the scene. Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

​Residents want bar shut down

Nearby residents and business owners have started a petition to shut down the bar.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said he would like another business to move in and is concerned the Mingle Room is operating as a nightclub when it is zoned as a restaurant. 
The Mingle Room Bar and Grill has no video surveillance footage from inside or outside the bar the night Ashton Dickson was fatally shot.

"I love for that business to be open in the daytime, to have a morning use, midday use and evening use," said Fleury.

"Right now it's all night operations and from a community standpoint we would love to see a different type of business there."

Fleury said the Mingle room was already on the city's radar because it is one of six businesses that violated the city's hookah ban. Fleury said the city will use available bylaws to improve safety for residents and is also calling on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to take a closer look at the bar.

"The Alcohol and Gaming (Commission) have a big hand and stick here," he said. "If they pull the liquor license it goes a long way in terms of shutting down the business."

City bylaw officers and inspectors with the commission visited the bar Tuesday, one day after the yellow police tape was taken down.

Rahmani said he doesn't understand why the bar is being targeted.

"The bar and the restaurant itself has no impact on the violence going around in the neighbourhood," he said.

CBC News