Police say fatal shooting in downtown Calgary happened after unwanted advances
The victim in last weekend's fatal shooting outside a downtown Calgary nightclub was defending a friend from being sexually harassed, police said Wednesday.
Police were called to the 600 block of Eighth Avenue S.W. about 2:40 a.m. on Sunday, where they found John Mitchell Smith Jr. seriously injured. He was rushed to hospital, where he later died.
Investigators say Smith and a female friend had left the Junction Underground nightclub minutes earlier and two men who were loitering outside started making unwanted sexual advances and physical contact with her.
"It is believed that the victim intervened and an altercation occurred that ended with the suspect drawing a firearm and shooting the victim, as well as accidentally shooting the acquaintance who was loitering outside the club with the suspect," it read.
"The shooter fled the scene on foot by heading eastbound along Eighth Avenue S.W. The second man fled the scene in a black Mercedes sedan with B.C. licence plates, which he then drove to the hospital."
The second man has not been cooperative with investigators.
“John was a victim of a random crime,” said homicide unit Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta. "He was a man that volunteered countless hours coaching basketball and serving with organizations that make our city a better place. Helping his friend cost him his life and we will do everything we can to bring his killer to justice.”
John Smith was a popular basketball coach, player and mentor. (Courtesy Smith family)
Smith's family issued a statement Wednesday.
"John was not only a brother and son, but our best friend. He had a heart of gold, was brilliant, funny, talented, driven and authentically himself. He was truly a revolutionary embodiment of Black joy. He made everyone around him feel seen, heard and empowered to self love. He was a protector," it read.
"John excelled on and off the court. He was a mentor and trainer to youth in the (United) States and Calgary. He was also the president of the Black & Indigenous Student Union and a budding model. He planned on returning to SAIT to finish his degree in business administration and play his final season of basketball.
"We are devastated by his passing. A huge piece of us is gone. Our family is forever broken. He is left behind by his family and girlfriend, whom he truly loved."
Smith moved to Calgary from Washington State several years ago to pursue basketball and then began coaching and mentoring.
SAIT issued a a statement, expressing sadness from the entire school community.
“We have always considered John to be one of our own and we are devastated," it read. "Our community is close-knit and this loss has affected us all. We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and teammates of John in this difficult time.”
The suspect is described as being under 182 centimetres (6') tall, with a visible tattoo on his neck and dark wavy hair. He was wearing a white Nike track suit top, blue jeans and white runners.
Investigators are also asking anyone with dash cam, cell phone or CCTV photos or video from the area that night to contact them, especially if either the suspect or the black Mercedes is captured.
Anyone with information is asked to call the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.