He earned the nickname ‘Lucky’ as an interpreter in Afghanistan. He and his best friend were gunned down in Toronto

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Zemrai Khan Mohammed, 26, survived landmines, ambushes and suicide bombers while working as an interpreter in Afghanistan with the Canadian military – earning him the nickname “Lucky”. After moving to Canada with her brother Jamal, who was also an interpreter for the Canadian Army, she worked in Afghanistan to support her parents and younger siblings, who are now lawyers and nurses.

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His best friend, 25-year-old Tyler McLean, had a zest for life and an eclectic spirit that left an impression on hundreds of friends and family. In a moving Victim Impact statement, his mother Paris Vasel described him as a “loving, kind, deep, dreamy, curiously beautiful person” with a full future ahead of him, including a reunion with his father. Business enterprise was also involved.

The two men were gunned down in a parking lot nearly four years ago outside the Rebel nightclub in Toronto at closing time by Tande Mohamed – a drug dealer who was traveling from Alberta to Toronto.

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Earlier this year, Superior Court Justice Peter Bawden found Mohamed guilty of second-degree murder of Zamarai Khan Mohamed, also known as Amir Jamal, and Maclean’s murder, finding that Mohamed knowingly committed murder. Two unarmed, unsuspecting men followed. and intended to terrorize them with a loaded gun. Instead, when Zemrai Khan came to the aid of Mohammed Maclean and punched the armed man, Mohammad backed down and shot him in the head in an “act of retaliation”. Then, as McLean ran after him, Mohammed, in a panic, shot him straight in the chest, Bowden found.

“Our boys were living, vibrant human beings who showed loyalty and bravery and love for each other in the last moments of their lives,” Wassell said. “It was the true measure of his character … and we are very proud of him. And he can never come back to us. And we will never be okay. Ever.”

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Jamal Khan said that his younger brother, Zamrai Khan Mohammed, took great pride in serving his country over the years and was looking forward to doing the same for Canada by joining the Canadian military in the future.

“Every single day since his death I can’t concentrate and I’ve lost hope and support,” he said.

In 16 victim impact statements, McLean’s family described their unimaginable devastation complicated by the trauma of two criminal trials – the first was shortened by the start of the pandemic in March 2020 – and a verdict of murder that they committed that night to Mohamed. Cannot match with functions. .

Judgment day was “the second most devastating day of my life”, his father Hugh McLean said.

Mohammed faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment in prison. A judge can only determine how long to wait until he or she first applies for parole between a period of 10 to 25 years.

Crown prosecutors Anna Tenhouse and Robert Wright are seeking a 20-year period before seeking Mohamed’s parole, arguing a sentence reflects “a clear lack of respect for human life and court orders”. Mohamed Mus Jaw was out on bail for smuggling cocaine into Sask, at the time of the shooting, and was prohibited from possessing a gun or cellphone. Instead, he traveled to Ontario for a drug deal in London, Ont.

Bowden noted that although he had convicted Mohamed of manslaughter in McLean’s murder, he was very close to being convicted of two murders.

Mohamed’s lawyers Richard Posner and Gabriel Gross-Stein sought a 14-year period before Mohamed could apply for parole. Posner described Mohamed as a “troubled” young man who started a cannabis business after being expelled from an Edmonton high school for attacking a vice-principal. He began taking a legal job but in 2015 during the economic downturn in Alberta, he started selling cocaine.

Mohamed is “working really hard to make a difference” in custody, deeply remorseful for his actions and has a real potential for rehabilitation with the support of his family, friends and prisoner outreach services.

“There is nothing I can say or do to fill the void left in the hearts of so many people,” Mohamed told the court, apologizing to the two families for the outcome of the “meaningless quarrel”, but added that their Life was never intended.

“I really wish I could turn back the hands of time,” he said. “It would be a faint silence to describe what happened that night.”

Listening to the statements shared in court “will take a toll on me for the rest of my life,” he said, adding that he would work to become a better person in the future.

Vassel told the court that his son’s friends had raised money through a charity to seek change. tyler effect Anti-gun violence measures and for victims of crime.

“We as a society should be outraged that innocent people roaming in a parking lot were shot dead. Somebody has to stop this,” Wassel said, adding that in subsequent years there have been nearly as many shootings as in 2017, the year her son was killed, including two recent shootings at major malls.

“Gun violence traumatizes an entire generation of our youth,” she said. “Someone has to take a stand.”

The verdict on the sentence will be pronounced on October 14.

Alishah Hashem is a Toronto-based reporter who covers crime and court for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @alysanmati



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