Crowds gathered at a mosque in Etobicoke Tuesday afternoon to mourn the 24-year-old man who was killed in Saturday's shooting at the Eaton Centre.
Ahmed Hassan was in a food court in the shopping mall when a man drew a gun and began firing. Mr. Hassan was killed, and seven other people were injured.
Police have said the shooting was targeted and may have been a personal dispute. They said they don’t believe it was gang related, but acknowledged that Mr. Hassan belonged to the same gang as the man who is now charged in the shooting.
Christopher Husbands, 23, was charged Monday with one count of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.
Some friends and relatives who gathered for Mr. Hassan’s funeral said they are angry at the picture that’s been portrayed of the young man’s troubles with the law and alleged association with a street gang.
“He’s actually a good person. You can’t say he’s a gangster,” Mr. Hassan’s 21-year-old cousin said outside the mosque. “I don’t even know what caused this, but I just want the news to know he’s a good person.”
Mr. Hassan was raised by his grandmother and went to high school in Toronto, before moving to Edmonton to join his father, she said. He had only recently returned to the city.
During the hour-long service, a mosque director spoke in Somali, telling mourners to remember to care for their families and to be good parents. He lamented the deaths of other young Somali men, including some who have been killed in Edmonton.
On one side of the mosque, women sat in chairs or on the floor, while others squeezed onto couches or stood against the walls in the hallway. A young woman who identified herself as Mr. Hassan’s sister sat inside a room on the first floor, her head covered in a patterned black and yellow scarf.
Outside the funeral, Said Rageah, an imam from Abu Huraira, a mosque in Scarborough, addressed a group of reporters.
“There’s a lot of issues that we need to deal with,” he said. Mr. Rageah said he has presided over many funerals of young Somali men, and believes both police and parents need to take more responsibility for the problem of violence in the community.
Abdifatah Warsame, who works with a Somali youth program in Toronto, said he believes too much focus has been placed on Mr. Hassan’s past, and not enough on the man who has been charged in his death.
“You probably, you can’t know whatever he was part of or not,” he said of Mr. Hassan. “But the fact remains that Ahmed Hassan is the victim.”