A 17-year-old Hamilton boy is dead after he was found shot in the back of the head in a car that crashed down a densely wooded embankment in rural Dundas.
The victim has been identified as Abdalla Hassan, a Hamilton teen and high school student whose family came to Canada from Dubai in 2014, said Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk of the major crime unit.
Three other Hamilton boys — two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old — are charged with first-degree murder after being arrested walking out of the woods less than an hour after police were called to Patterson Road and Wesley Avenue.
The trio cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).
Bereziuk said the young ages of everyone involved makes the case “shocking” and “disturbing.”
A patrol officer made the gruesome discovery after police were called shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Monday for reports of a car abandoned after a crash. Three teens were seen running away.
Hamilton police said the autopsy showed Hassan died from a gunshot wound. Police seized a gun believed to have been used in the murder.
A source with knowledge of the case told The Spectator that Hassan was shot in the back of the head.
It’s unclear when and where he was shot, why the four-door grey sedan that belonged to Hassan’s family was in the area, or how the teens knew each other.
A charge of first-degree murder often means the homicide was allegedly premeditated. But other reasons include forcible confinement.
Bereziuk said he couldn’t specify what evidence led police to lay those charges.
Under the YCJA, when the victim is also a minor and has died, his or her parents must give permission for the name to be released. In this case, Hassan’s parents agreed to release his name, but do not want to speak publicly.
“His parents are obviously deeply upset, they’re grieving right now, they have asked for privacy,” Bereziuk said.
Hassan’s family has described him as “nice young man,” he said.
All three accused appeared calm and collected during their first brief court appearances late Tuesday afternoon.
The boys appeared separately, one after the other, in blue detention jumpsuits, and occasionally glanced around the courtroom from the prisoner’s box.
There were no family or friends in the courtroom for them — save for one boy whose father attended with an interpreter.
One was represented by a lawyer, another had a lawyer who had represented him in the past speak for him, and the third was represented by duty counsel. They all waived the reading of the charges against them in court.
The fact that two of them had no family in the courtroom prompted the justice of the peace to ask if the parents understood their sons were in custody and what they were charged with — to which their representatives replied in the affirmative.
The boys are being kept in custody. They were ordered not to have contact with each other, or with members of Hassan’s family, as well as other named individuals.
One was remanded to appear again on Wednesday, one on Thursday and the other on May 7.
The police investigation began when Hamilton police were called to the area for what witnesses thought was a car that had been abandoned after veering off the road. The witnesses reported seeing three teens running from the sedan, which had come to rest in a wooded area off Patterson Road.
But instead of finding a car crash, a patrol officer found Hassan. Hamilton paramedics and firefighters tried to resuscitate the teen, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Within an hour after the crash, police arrested three Hamilton teens, who matched the description of the trio seen running from the car. They were stopped coming out of the brush on York Road southeast of the the crash scene.
Detectives are grateful the witnesses were quick to call police and that patrol officers in the area were quick to respond.
It “got us off to the right start,” Bereziuk said.
At the scene on Tuesday morning, an 800-metre stretch of Patterson was blocked by police tape between Valley Road to just west of Wesley. It’s a rural area with few houses surrounded by brush and woods. There is a steep embankment with the hill sloping down toward the south.
A Hamilton police cruiser and more tape marked a small stretch in the middle of the closed area where the car is believed to have left the road. Bereziuk said the car landed “50 to 60 feet from the road.”
The vehicle could not be seen from the road in the dense brush.
Hamilton police were canvassing homes and looking for any surveillance video in the area. Forensic investigators and collision reconstruction detectives were also at the scene.
Investigators believe this was a targeted incident and the public is not at risk. Police are not looking for any more suspects.
This is the second homicide in Hamilton this year.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Ben Adams at 905-546-3836.
To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or crimestoppershamilton.com.
905-526-3199 | @NicoleatTheSpec
905-526-3199 | @NicoleatTheSpec