Accused in fatal nightclub shooting says he acted in self-defence

·3 min read

The accused in a fatal 2016 shooting at a ByWard Market nightclub says he only fired his gun in self-defence after another drug dealer tried to take over his sale.

Mustafa Ahmed, 32, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Omar Rashid-Ghader, who was 33 at the time of his killing. On Tuesday, Ahmed told court about the confrontation that led to Rashid-Ghader's death.

I was terrified. I was only trying to save my own life. - Mustafa Ahmed

"I was terrified. I was only trying to save my own life," Ahmed testified from behind Plexiglas at the Elgin Street courthouse. The proceedings are being made available to the public via Zoom.

Ahmed said he was arranging a drug deal at the bar of the Sentral Nightclub at Dalhousie and Clarence streets just after 3 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2016.

He said Rashid-Ghader's associates approached him to try to get involved in the deal, which would've meant Ahmed wouldn't make any money.

Shooter startled

Ahmed said he was startled when Rashid-Ghader, also known as "Esco," appeared behind him at the bar and began trying to get involved as well.

Ahmed said he was then struck by what he thought was the butt of a gun, which video evidence has shown was actually a bottle. He said he didn't know whether Rashid-Ghader still had the weapon as he continued to beat Ahmed on the floor.

He said he knew that Rashid-Ghader, from whom he had previously picked up drugs, carried weapons such as guns, baseball bats, bricks and machetes, so Ahmed said he was worried he'd end up in hospital or dead.

Ahmed testified that the bouncers at the club hadn't checked him for weapons, so he had no reason to believe they had checked Rashid-Ghader, either. Ahmed said he only fired after he had been slammed into the floor and hit repeatedly.

He said Rashid-Ghader tried to wrestle control of the gun from him, and didn't let up until after the second shot was fired.

Bullet pierced victim's heart

Noting that one of the bullets went through Rashid-Ghader's heart, Ahmed's defence lawyer Solomon Friedman asked his client if he had aimed his weapon with that intention.

"My thoughts were focused on getting myself out of that situation. I fired in his general direction," Ahmed responded. "I didn't aim for his head, I didn't aim for his heart."

Ahmed said he didn't know Rashid-Ghader was dead when he left the club. Once Ahmed heard he was wanted for second-degree murder, he disposed of the bloodied shirt he'd worn that night, fled to Toronto and got rid of the gun he'd used that night.

"I didn't murder him," Ahmed recalled thinking at the time. "I just think in my head, [the police are] not going to believe my side of the story.... I was just defending myself."

Court heard Ahmed had previously been shot, and that's why he started carrying a gun.

The trial resumes Thursday with cross-examination.