Police in Hamilton say they have charged one man and obtained a warrant for the arrest of another in connection with the death of a 19-year-old man who was gunned down while trying to assist an older man who was allegedly being harassed.
Yosif Al-Hasnawi had just left his mosque in the area of Main Street East and Wentworth Street South Saturday night when he spotted two men accosting another man. Al-Hasnawi tried to intervene and was subsequently shot by one of the men, police said previously.
The teen was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators released descriptions of two suspects on Sunday and appealed to the public for information about them.
Police said Monday that they have arrested a 20-year-old Hamilton man in connection with Al-Hasnawi’s death.
James Anthony Robert Matheson has been charged with accessory after the fact to murder and was scheduled to make a court appearance Monday afternoon.
Police said Dale Burningsky King, 19, is wanted for second degree murder. He is considered armed and dangerous and anyone who spots him is being urged to contact police.
Both of the suspects are from Hamilton.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk said police are still looking to speak with the man who was originally accosted.
“Again, I would appeal to this gentleman if he knows he was involved in this altercation, I would ask that he reach out to us,” Bereziuk said.
Victim wanted to be a doctor
Al-Hasnawi’s father, Majed Al-Hasnawi, told CTV News Toronto Monday that his son was a “good boy” who always stuck up for others.
“He was a great boy. He was very religious. Sometimes I’d wake up at night and find him praying. He believed in peace,” Majed Al-Hasnawi said.
Majed said the night he died, his son had been reading a few pages of the Koran publicly at their mosque as part of celebrations marking the birth of the prophet Mohammed.
Al-Hasnawi was a first-year medical science student at Brock University who had dreams of becoming a doctor one day. His father recently got him a yellow Volvo to go to school, but he never got to drive it.
The University released a statement Sunday expressing shock at his death.
“The Brock community is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of our colleague Yosif Al-Hasnawi,” said Brock University President Gervan Fearon. “Our deepest sympathies go to his family.”
Bereziuk also praised him as a “brave” young man who did something that many others would not have done.
“This young man was doing what he felt was right in the situation,” Bereziuk said Sunday. “He was a brave young man.”
Paramedics investigating response
In addition to the investigation into the actual murder, another investigation has been launched into how paramedics handled Al-Hasnawi after they arrived on scene.
Bystanders said emergency responders didn’t believe that the victim had been shot and treated him as if he were pretending.
“They thought he was acting. The man was in severe pain inside his abdomen, why would he act?” bystander Talib Al-Jalili told reporters.
Al-Hasnawi’s father said paramedics told him his son was “acting” and didn’t behave as if his situation was life-threatening.
“I came running after I heard the story. I saw my son thrown on the sidewalk and paramedics telling him ‘stop acting,’” Majed Al-Hasnawi said. “The same guy asked me ‘tell him he’s ok, he has no problem.’ I said ‘no, no – there is probably interior bleeding.’ It’s just common sense, you know?
“Then my son said ‘I cannot breathe.’ This is the last words that I heard from my son. And this guy treated him… I’ve never seen such treatment.”
Another bystander said paramedics threw the dying boy onto a stretcher like “baggage.”
“We begged him – ‘please send him to hospital.’ But he didn’t care,” Majed Al-Hasnawi said.
He added he believes that his son would have had a better chance at surviving if paramedics had behaved differently.
In a statement Monday, Hamilton Paramedic Services said that they have launched an investigation into the handling of the incident.
“Hamilton Paramedic Service (HPS) is committed to a high standard of care for all of its residents. As a result of information we have received, HPS has notified the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Investigations Branch and we have initiated an investigation,” Hamilton Paramedic Services Deputy Chief Russell Crocker said in a statement.
“HPS will ensure that our process is thorough and that all facts are obtained and examined in regards to the event this past weekend. As we are in the early stages of the investigation, we are unable to provide any additional details at this time.”
Crocker also extended condolences to Al-Hasnawi’s family.
Bereziuk said that all accounts of what happened at the scene will be part of the police investigation, but didn’t explicitly say whether police will be reviewing their handling of the response.
“We’re going to take any bit of information we possibly can to add to this investigation,” Bereziuk said. “At this point my focus is to locate this individual who is at large in the community right now and to locate the whereabouts of the firearm – that’s what we’re focusing on, to hold those accountable who have taken a life.”
- With files from The Canadian Press