Four people are in hospital after a gunfight at a funeral at a Muslim cemetery near Cochrane, Alta., Friday afternoon.
Cochrane RCMP does not believe the shooting was racially motivated. RCMP does not have anyone in custody, but investigators do not believe the public is in any danger, Corporal Sharon Franks told reporters Friday evening. All of the victims are male, of the same race, and expected to make a full recovery, she said.
“When police arrived at the cemetery all the parties who had been involved in the incident had already left the scene,” Cpl. Franks said.
“We do not believe that this is a random incident. It appears there were friends and family gathering for a funeral at this cemetery when an altercation broke out that [ended] with a gun fight,” she said.
The shooting happened around 3:35 p.m. local time. Cochrane is about 30 kilometres northwest of Calgary. The victims are co-operating with investigators, she said. “We would like to hear from those people who had driven the injured parties to the hospitals.” The victims are in Calgary.
Zouheir Osman, who is in charge of the cemetery, said a service for a 21-year-old man was taking place before the shooting. He said he left shortly before the shots were fired.
Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said he spoke with two people who attended the funeral and they suspect the shooting was gang-related.
“It did not seem to be a hate crime,” Mr. Soharwardy said. “It looks like it was a turf war or gang war or some type of revenge.”
The funeral was for a Pakistani man named Hamza Nazir, said Mr. Soharwardy, who knows Nazir’s family. He said he doesn’t know the cause of the young man’s death.
Mr. Soharwardy said many young people from different ethnic groups showed up at the funeral, and one group even stayed outside the cemetery fence.
“People were quite suspicious because they had never seen so many young people attending a funeral,” Mr. Soharwardy said. “So after the burial, they just left.”
He said the shooting happened a few minutes later.
Officials have no evidence to indicate whether the fight is related to gang activity. Cochrane RCMP are working with Calgary Police Service as part of the investigation.
Investigators believe all of the people involved in the fight were at the funeral. Officials do not know how all of the people involved in the altercation are connected. The investigation is difficult, Cpl. Franks said, because everyone had fled the scene by the time RCMP arrived.
“Investigators are trying to work through, follow the evidence, to determine who was responsible and even who the injured parties are.”
- With files from The Canadian PressReport Typo/Error