Muslim Council of Calgary saddened by outpouring of violence near sacred cemetery
Published Saturday, March 12, 2016 5:46PM MST
Last Updated Saturday, March 12, 2016 6:42PM MST
Members of Calgary’s Muslim community are disheartened by the violence that erupted Friday afternoon following a funeral service for a 21-year-old man at the Muslim Cemetery near Cochrane.
Funeral director Zuhair Osman says the burial service was for 21-year-old Hamza Shad who passed away recently in hospital from natural causes.
Following the service, a group of young people remained in the area.
According to RCMP, shots were fired shortly before 3:30 p.m. and four males were injured. All four shooting victims, who range in age from 16 to 20 years old, were sent to hospital and are expected to survive.
Asadullah Mahmood, a friend of the deceased, attended Friday’s funeral and left minutes before the gunshots.
“My buddy texted me that ‘you are safe’ that this is happening in the parking lot right after that.”
Mahmood says for the past three and a half years he has visited his mother's grave at the cemetery and this is the first time he's heard of violence in the place of prayer and reflection.
No arrests have been made in connection with the incident. RCMP quickly eliminated the possibility the incident was a random attack motivated by hate.
"It looks like all of the parties involved were at this funeral and at this point we're not even sure of the relationship between the shooters and the victims," said Cpl. Sharon Franks. “All of the injured parties are of the same race and we do not believe this was racially motivated.”
"We have no indications to say that it is (gang related) or is not at this point. We are still reaching out to the Calgary Police Service to see if they have anything that weill help in terms of getting any leads on this file."
Ghazanfar Zanfar of the Muslim Council of Calgary said the community is still reeling from the incident.
“It completely saddens us,” said Zanfar. “It’s not a good time.”
While investigators have not released a suspected motive, Zanfar says the shooting speaks to the issue of escalating violence among Muslim youth.
“There is definitely a sense of denial around that and this kind of magnifies the real matter,” said Zanfar. “There are all our youth. We have to do whatever we can to protect them.”
The Muslim Council of Calgary says it will continue to work closely with RCMP to help with the investigation.
Anyone who attended the funeral or has information related to the shooting incident is asked to contact local police or Crime Stoppers.