Ottawa murder-accused tells jury they can't rely on prosecution's surviving eyewitness

·3 min read
A Canada-wide warrant was issued on July 26, 2017, for Alam Gabriel Buoc. The 30-year-old Ottawa man is wanted for first-degree murder and attempted murder after three shootings in Ottawa earlier this week.  (Ottawa Police Service, Andrew Foote/CBC - image credit)
A Canada-wide warrant was issued on July 26, 2017, for Alam Gabriel Buoc. The 30-year-old Ottawa man is wanted for first-degree murder and attempted murder after three shootings in Ottawa earlier this week. (Ottawa Police Service, Andrew Foote/CBC - image credit)

Despite a surviving eyewitness identifying him as the gunman, Alam Buoc argued to a jury Thursday that he is not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the July 2017 shooting of his friends.

Buoc is representing himself at trial. He is charged with fatally shooting Abdulrahman Al-Shammari and Dirie Olol and injuring Al-Shammari's brother Talal Al-Shammari in the city's west end.

There's "no question," Buoc told the jury in his closing address, the shootings were a tragedy.

The jury heard that all four men grew up together in the same neighbourhood, living just doors away from each other.

The issue for jurors to decide, Buoc said, is if the Crown has proven its case and whether he is guilty of the "heinous allegations" against him.

"And in my respectful submission, the Crown has not."

Triple-shooting trial began in September

Prosecutors opened their case in September at the start of what is Buoc's second trial on the charges. A previous trial in 2020 ended in a mistrial after pandemic delays.

After leaving a Kanata bar in July 2017, all four men ended up at Buoc's apartment where the accused showed his friends two guns in his possession, the court heard.

They heard from eyewitness Talal Al-Shammari, the only surviving victim in the case. He described how Buoc's mood changed and how he began accusing the men of stealing a bullet from him.

The men decided to leave, but Buoc followed them — what Talal didn't know at the time was that he brought the handgun with him, Talal told the jury.

Al-Shammari got behind the wheel of his white Mazda 3. Olol jumped into the passenger seat, and Talal sat in the back. Buoc followed them, court heard, and hopped in the back, too.

Within minutes, the gunfire would begin.

Roger Dubois/CBC
Roger Dubois/CBC

Al-Shammari was shot through his neck. He got out of the car and stumbled to a driveway on Tavistock Drive, where he collapsed.

Olol was shot through the back of his head and the bullet became lodged in the glove box. His body would remain in the idling vehicle for hours until neighbours in the area of Aylen and Wayne avenues reported it to police.

Talal was shot in the neck and shoulder. He passed out, but quickly came to and realized he was trapped with alleged assailant Buoc.

Buoc questions witness's memory

Prosecutors argued Buoc's plan to get away with double murder began while Talal was still in surgery, making his way to Gatineau to apply for an expedited passport and booking a plane ticket to Sudan.

Buoc conceded Thursday that all of the victims, based on the evidence, were shot inside the white Mazda.

"But the question is who was the shooter? And how exactly did the shooting transpire?"

He called Talal's statements to police and at trial "contradictory" and "inconsistent."

A building is as strong as its weakest stone, Buoc said. "And Talal is that stone. Therefore, the case falls."

Buoc questioned Talal on his mental health history, which includes a diagnosis of schizophrenia and medication he continues to take.

Talal testified he was originally too scared to tell police the truth, but Buoc asked whether it was police or prosecutor coercion that prompted him to identify Buoc as the shooter.

Buoc asked the jury Thursday to consider what effect marijuana, alcohol and not taking his medication might have had on Talal's memory — whether the prosecution's star witness even knew what was happening.

He also raised issues with the police investigation, calling into question the actions of several police officers — from the homicide detectives, who ultimately built the case against him, to the identification officer who analyzed the blood spatter at the scene.

Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger is expected to charge the jury with their instructions on Friday, after which they will begin deliberating.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting