Police Shot Man over suspected Explosive — (Globe and Mail)

SSRI Ed note: Police shoot but do not kill an unarmed young man carrying a plastic bag.

To view updated article click here

The Globe and Mail (The version below appears in the Nov 18 print edition, Page A8)

Patrick White

Wednesday, Nov 18

[Note: the updated, online version removes the reference to medication – Ed.]

Police in Mississauga shot a young man whom they suspected was wearing an explosive device just hours after attackers in Paris killed 129 people using assault rifles and suicide vests.

The man was released from hospital after being struck four times shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday, police said.

Hamza Mohamed Abdi, 26, faces one charge of possessing an imitation weapon for a dangerous purpose, two charges of uttering death threats and one charge of failing to comply with a recognizance.

Peel Regional Police said they responded to a report of a suicidal man at the intersection of Golden Orchard Drive and Grand Forks Road early Saturday. Once on scene, officers called in the Explosive Disposal Unit and warned neighboring residents to seek safety in their basements.

A friend of the Abdi family told the Globe and Mail that Mr. Abdi had been struggling with mental health issues.  He had recently stopped taking medication but had no history of violence. 

After midnight on Saturday, he had gone for a walk in the neighbourhood where his family lives. He was carrying a plastic bag but no weapons.

In all, the stand-off between Mr. Abdi and police lasted about 90 minutes, said the friend, Asiya Idris, a timeline verified by neighbours.

Sheila Stratigeas, who lives one door down fro an outline of green paint on the pavement where Mr. Abdi fell, said, “We got a call from police telling us to hurry down to the basement…“We couldn’t figure out what was going on, but what happened in France was on our minds.”

Ms. Stratigeas and her husband remained in the basement watching news coverage of the Paris attacks until around 3 a.m., when police said it was safe to return upstairs.

The investigation has been handed over to the independent Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

Additional information included in the online version:

A spokesman for the SIU said that four investigators and two forensic specialists have been assigned to the case. The investigators have designated one subject officer and six witness officers, but little other information was available on Tuesday.

“Investigators are working to determine the circumstances leading to the shooting as well as particulars of the incident,” SIU spokesman Jason Gennaro said by e-mail. “At this point, the investigation is ongoing and I’m unable to confirm details or comment further.”

Peel police also deferred comment because the investigation is in the SIU’s hands.

One neighbour who watched parts of the encounter said police first engaged a distraught man on the grounds of Burnhamthorpe Public School. A report in the Toronto Sun cited unnamed police sources as saying the man appeared to be wearing an explosive vest and held something that looked like a trigger device.

Mr. Abdi had a bail hearing on Sunday and is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday.