Players with the Calgary Stampeders wiped away tears Monday as they relived the shooting death of a teammate outside a nightclub more than two years ago.
Derek Dennis was the first witness at the second-degree murder trial of Nelson Lugela, 21, who is charged in the murder of Mylan Hicks, who was a member of the CFL team’s practice roster.
Dennis told court that a minor altercation had occurred on Sept. 25, 2016, at Marquee Beer Market in Calgary, where the team was celebrating a victory over Winnipeg a few hours earlier.
He said the dispute began over a spilled drink and the Stampeders’ assistant coach bought drinks for everyone involved to try to smooth things over.
Dennis said after the club was closed, he went and brought his car to the front and saw another altercation outside. Worried his teammates might be involved, he started to get out of the car and heard a bottle breaking, a gunshot and people rushing away, he said.
“I see Mylan running toward my direction. As I see Mylan running toward me, I see the shooter come out with the gun pointed toward him. I see him take a second shot – bang. I see Mylan starts to stumble,” Dennis testified.
“As he’s stumbling, the shooter takes a third shot – bang. After he took a third shot, that’s when I see Mylan hit the concrete face down.”
Dennis said he and teammate Jamal Nixon rushed to his friend’s side.
“As he grabs Mylan and flips him over, he’s like holding him. He unzips his coat. He opens it up and opens his shirt and I just see a bullet hole in his chest area,” Dennis said.
“Mylan’s just laying there. You could see he’s gasping for air and trying to hold on to himself. We’re all just telling him: ‘Just hold on, Mylan. The ambulance is coming.“’
Dennis tried to compose himself before continuing.
“I’m heartbroken. I was scared for him, man. I was just praying and hoping he could hold on long enough for the ambulance to come get him.”
Former running back Jerome Messam testified there was a problem in the bar with three people bothering Stamps kicker Rene Paredes and his wife. He said Hicks had nothing to with it.
Messam said he was outside when he heard breaking glass and gunshots.
“I heard pow. Then I heard pow, pow. I looked to my right immediately and people were running,” Messam told court.
“I’m not scared at the time because I’m thinking it’s fireworks. I didn’t think it was gunshots, because I didn’t think anybody in Calgary was going to be shooting no gun.”
Messam fought back tears as he recalled finding Hicks on the ground “fighting for his life.”
“We turned him over and I saw the hole and I just told him to fight man. I just told him to fight.
“We said we’re here for you. His eyes were still open and I thought he was going to be OK because he was strong. They took him in the ambulance and that was the last time I saw Mylan Hicks.”
Court heard the shooter and two other young men jumped into an SUV and sped away. Police said they arrested three people about 45 minutes later when they returned to the scene.
Hicks’s mother, Renee Hill, cried as she listened to details of her 23-year-old son’s death. Hill was wearing a white T-shirt with the word “Mom” and her son’s No. 6 on the back and a photo of him in a Michigan State football uniform on the front.
Lugela, who also had family members in court, pleaded not guilty.