Homicide victim was not intended target of Lowertown shooting

A 20-year-old man remembered for his big stature and big heart was the unintended victim of fatal gunfire while playing pick-up basketball, CBC News has learned.

Tyson Ndongozi, 20, was playing pick-up basketball when he was shot dead

Loris Tyson Ndongozi had a football scholarship to play in Quebec when he was shot dead in Ottawa's Lowertown area. (Facebook)

A 20-year-old man remembered for his big stature and big heart was the unintended victim of fatal gunfire, CBC News has learned.

Loris Tyson Ndongozi, 20, was killed Sunday night while playing pick-up basketball with a friend. That friend, an 18-year-old man who police had incorrectly said was 20, was also shot but survived his injuries.

According to police sources, that man was the target of the gunfire that rang out at a Lowertown basketball court.

Officers were called to the area of Beausoleil Drive and York Street, near École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Anne, just before midnight Sunday to reports of repeated gunfire and two people shot  — one fatally, the other with multiple gunshot wounds.

The shooting happened at a basketball court near Beausoleil Drive and York Street on Sunday night. (S.B./CBC)

Family sought a better life

Ndongozi immigrated from Burundi with his family four years ago, according to his cousin Ghislain Kezabahizi.

His family understood war-torn life, and was looking to Canada as a place of safety.

"You're hoping for a better future for your children or even for yourself, and then this happens," he said.

"He gets shot just randomly like that. And as a parent, I don't think nobody wants to bury their child."

When he arrived, Ndongozi "fell in love" with football, Kezabahizi told CBC. 

Ndongozi was called 'Pancake' on the football field. (Facebook)

Weeks away from starting football scholarship

Ndongozi learned to play football in Canada, eventually playing along the offensive line with the North Gloucester Giants at the midget level. He was recently recruited to play at a top football program in Quebec at CEGEP Notre-Dame.

He had graduated from Collège catholique Samuel-Genest just days ago. 

In a statement posted to Facebook, the school said that it was with "deep sadness" they learned of his death.

"Tyson had just received his high school diploma a week ago and (was) headed to Cégep Notre-Dame-de-Foy to pursue his football career. No doubt that with his immense talent and passion for sport, he would have reached unimaginable heights," the statement said.

"Tyson, your radiant smile, your contagious joviality and your joy of life have forever marked us. You had the biggest heart. We love you. You will always stay with us."

Ndongozi, 20, had just graduated from high school one week earlier. (Facebook)

'He was always trying to learn'

Carroll Tolmie, an offensive line coach at the University of Ottawa, coached him at several camps and remembers Ndongozi as a determined player. 

"He was always trying to learn. He was always trying to get better," he said.

Just walking onto the field made his teammates happy, said former classmate Riki Duret.

In an online fundraiser to raise money for funeral costs, Karine Halle, the wife of Ndongozi's former Giants coach said the young man was scheduled to help train new recruits on the first day of football season.

He was killed the night before.

"Tyson was not involved in criminal activities. He was not known by the police. He was a respectful young man, full of dreams, hopes, and love," Halle wrote.

"A life taken unjustly — and much too soon."

Ottawa police are asking for help to identify these persons of interest in the Ndongozi case. (Ottawa Police Service)

2 persons of interest

Ndongozi was the city's tenth homicide victim of 2021.

Ottawa police homicide detectives have identified two men as "persons of interest" in the case.

Those men are believed to have taken a cab to the area of the double shooting shortly before the gunfire began.

Police have made no arrests.


Shaamini Yogaretnam

CBC Ottawa reporter

Shaamini Yogaretnam is CBC Ottawa's justice, crime and police reporter. She has spent a decade covering crime in the nation's capital. You can reach her at or 613-220-2486. You can find her on Twitter at @shaaminiwhy

With files from Natalia Goodwin