Ottawa

Brothers killed in drive-by shooting 'didn't expect to die'

Abdulaziz and Mohamad Abdullah were shot to death near their white Range Rover at the edge of a packed parking lot at the intersection of Alta Vista Drive and Dorion Avenue Friday. A third brother was taken to hospital and is expected to survive.

Abdulaziz Abdullah, 34, and Mohamad Abdullah, 27, pronounced dead at scene; 3rd brother wounded

Ottawa police investigate a drive-by shooting on Alta Vista Drive on May 28, 2021, that left two men dead and a third man suffering from non-life threatening injuries. (Mathieu Thériault/CBC)

At the home of Abdulaziz and Mohamad Abdullah, their half-eaten food remains on a plate, their shoes at the front door.

"Never to be worn again," said someone who knew the family, whom CBC Ottawa is not naming because of concerns for their safety.

The two men — Abdullaziz, 34, and Mohamad, 27 — were shot dead in a drive-by shooting outside an Alta Vista strip mall Friday evening.

A third brother, Fawaz Abdullah, who was shot in the leg and underwent surgery at hospital, is expected to survive his injuries.

Ottawa police believe the shootings, and the men, were targeted.

The drive-by shooting occurred just after 6:30 p.m. The brothers, believed to have been unarmed at the time, were shot near their white Range Rover at the sidewalk edge of a packed parking lot at the intersection of Alta Vista Drive and Dorion Avenue.

Eyewitnesses who described the confrontation told CBC they heard gunshot after gunshot. Police and paramedics descended on the area. One of the brothers was found dead inside the vehicle, while another was on the ground.

Police covered the driver's side window of the SUV with a white sheet and placed a yellow tarp on the dead man on the ground. They cordoned off the entire parking lot and plaza, which contains a Shoppers Drug Mart and Tim Hortons, with police tape.

A group of men stood watch across the street Friday evening near the bodies of their slain friends, their numbers slowly growing as police remained at the scene. 

The friend said it was Fawaz who alerted relatives and friends about what happened, telling his mother and sister that his brothers had been killed. 

At the family home, mourners arrived to offer their condolences to a family struck by unimaginable tragedy — three brothers shot in one evening — and police officers stood guard through the night, the friend said.

History with courts

Two of the Abdullah brothers have a history with the criminal courts and gang-related violence.

Abdulaziz Abdullah, or "EZ," has been convicted numerous times for gang-and-gun violence. He was due in court in Toronto in September to face an attempted murder charge.

His convictions range from gun possession to being an accessory after a homicide. He was also convicted for his involvement in a 2008 gang-related drive-by shooting in Ottawa's south end.

In 2011, Abdulaziz was convicted of brandishing a gun to get rid of people from a hotel party. He then barricaded himself inside a room and a six-hour standoff with police ensued. He was convicted of possessing and carelessly handling a semi-automatic handgun.

The parking lot of the Alta Vista Drive strip mall where 34-year-old Abdulaziz Abdullah and 27-year-old Mohamad Abdullah were shot to death on May 28, 2021, is seen here the following morning. (Uday Rana/CBC)

Court records tell the story of a family that tried to steer him and his brothers away from a life of guns.

He came to Canada from Kuwait when he was seven years old, according to the sentencing decision from the hotel case. After youth brushes with the law and "what his family considered to be undesirable friends," the family returned to Kuwait.

Abdulaziz returned to Canada in 2007, and criminal charges and convictions continued.

He pleaded guilty in October 2016 to being an accessory and getaway driver in the 2015 homicide of Sharif Said.

Fawaz, or "Caesar," was charged with two counts of attempted murder in a drive-by shooting in 2014. He pleaded guilty to lesser firearms charges in 2016 and was sentenced to three years and 131 days in prison.

'They paid their debt'

Despite their mistakes, they didn't deserve to be victims of such violence, the friend said. 

The three brothers, along with their sister and mother, are the only members of the family living in Ottawa, the friend said, adding that the brothers were devoted to their mother and family.

"But when with boys in the street, they were different men," they said. "Every time they leave the house, they are afraid it's their last day because of mistakes in the past."

They came to Canada as immigrants and grew up in a rough neighbourhood, they said.  There were times that the family — devout and religious Muslims — distanced themselves from the brothers.

Despite their negative past, they were still loved, respected and had a family. They were truly victims.​​​​​​- Family member

But in recent years, the friend said, they were growing up and becoming adults. They recently celebrated Eid together. They were making plans to plant a garden.

Their mother, the friend said, refused to leave them because she feared if she did that, they would choose the wrong path for good.

On Friday evening, Abdulaziz and Mohamad "didn't expect to die," the friend said. They were all just innocently hanging out together, as brothers, in the parking lot.

"They paid their debt to society," they said. "Despite their negative past, they were still loved, respected and had a family. They were truly victims."

Police appeal for information

Since the killing, police have found a white Acura parked in Kanata South off of Old Richmond Road that was reported stolen from Toronto, according to police sources.

It's believed to be the getaway vehicle used in the triple shooting.

The Abdullah brothers' deaths are the fifth and sixth homicides in Ottawa in 2021.

Police do not believe that Friday's double homicide is related to the fatal shooting of Abdulkadir Yusuf earlier this week.

They are asking anyone with information to call the homicide unit at 613-236-1222 ext. 5493.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaamini Yogaretnam

CBC Ottawa reporter

Shaamini Yogaretnam is CBC Ottawa's justice, crime and police reporter. She has spent nearly a decade covering crime in the nation's capital. You can reach her at shaamini.yogaretnam@cbc.ca or 613-220-2486.

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