RCMP are still investigating the Muslim cemetery shooting that put four men in the hospital this past Friday.
Reports of gunshots at the cemetery, 1 kilometre east of Cochrane off Highway 1A, came around 3:30 p.m. on March 11. Several RCMP vehicles responded to find no one on the scene and the site was secured.
Police arrived at the cemetery to learn that those involved in the shooting had left the area, and the victims were at Calgary-area hospitals being treated for non-life-threatening injuries sustained in the incident. All four victims were taken to Calgary from Cochrane in personal vehicles by individuals who were at the cemetery prior to police attending the scene.
The altercation that lead to a gun fight happened shortly after the funeral of 21-year-old Hamza Nazir – RCMP say the funeral was not related to the incident.
Cemetery caretaker Zouheir Osman explained Nazir’s death was due to a heart attack and had originally stated he believed the shooting was racially motivated – but as the investigation unfolded RCMP said investigators are not treating this as a racially motivated or hate crime.
“When police arrived at the cemetery all the parties who had been involved in the incident had already left the scene, ” said RCMP Cpl. Sharon Franks. “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. ”
Witnesses didn’t see a vehicle leave the scene but there were complaints of a vehicle travelling eastbound at a high rate of speed around the time of the shooting.
The RCMP did not pursue any vehicles that day but have since found an abandoned black Cadillac, and are currently trying to determine if the vehicle was involved with the incident.
While there was a heavy police presence at the entrance to Foothills Hospital in Calgary early in the investigation, RCMP said there is no immediate danger to the public. All four victims are reported to be co-operating with the RCMP and at press time, there was still no one in custody.
Cochrane RCMP are actively investigating this matter and believe it was not a random occurrence. The investigation has been front-end loaded with members from specialized sections such as the RCMP Forensic Investigation Section and the Cochrane General Investigation Section (GIS) in addition to investigators from the Cochrane RCMP detachment. Assistance from the Calgary Police Service is ongoing. Police are asking that if anyone has information or may have witnessed this incident to call the Cochrane RCMP detachment at 403-851-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-2477.