Teen convicted in fatal Gilmour Street Airbnb shooting

·5 min read
Police inspect the scene of the shooting on Gilmour Street on Jan. 8, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)
Police inspect the scene of the shooting on Gilmour Street on Jan. 8, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)

A 17-year-old boy was the "inside guy" who helped an assassin carry out a targeted quadruple shooting at a Gilmour Street Airbnb in 2020, an Ottawa jury found Wednesday.

The teen, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is guilty of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder after a seven-week trial, including two days of juror deliberations.

Manyok "Manny" Akol, an 18-year-old aspiring rapper who performed as FTG Metro, was killed in the early morning shooting that injured three others — all between the ages of 15 and 20.

Sirens and police lights flooded the downtown residential street on the morning of Jan. 8, 2020.

Crown prosecutors Malcolm Savage and Matthew Humphreys told the jury in their closing address that the trial offered a rare glimpse into a criminal subculture in the city and how a toxic mix of guns and drugs corrupts youth.

Two of the three surviving victims testified from jail where they await trial for their own alleged crimes, and all either claimed they were asleep, or didn't remember the events leading up to the slaying of their friend.

Court heard how it took less than two minutes for the shooter to fire 14 rounds inside the rented one-bedroom unit — that was being used to set up drug deals — striking four people, and then flee on foot.

The now-convicted teen aided the shooter by "being his eyes and ears inside 490 Gilmour [St.]," Savage told the jury. The teen kept watch, waited for the others to fall asleep and made sure the door was unlocked so the shooter could make a "stealthy entry."

Police case anchored in cellphone, video evidence 

The teen was inside the Airbnb unit early in the morning of Jan. 8, according to cellphone records that put him at the scene.

Ottawa police have not charged a shooter or publicly identified one, but determined he was operating a cellphone that was communicating with the teen in the time before the shooting.

"The shooter could have been anyone. But whomever he was, [the accused] was assisting him," Savage told the jury.

Francis Ferland/CBC
Francis Ferland/CBC

Jurors heard the teen arranged through friends to get an Uber ride to Gilmour hours before the shooting. He arrived around 1:30 a.m.

Between 4:28 a.m. and before he first left the Airbnb, the teen made four calls to the shooter.

Those frequent phone calls continued as the teen made his way to a Tim Hortons for what Savage called a "rendez-vous" with the killer. Surveillance video from the parking lot of the coffee shop shows the teen was picked up in a car.

They travelled back to Gilmour together, prosecutors argued, based on the period of time their phones were in the same area, pinging off the same cell towers but not communicating with each other.

At 6:22 a.m., the teen called the suspected assassin and by 6:38 a.m., the teen was calling Manyok Akol's older brother Kuot Akol to get access to the unit, which was locked as a precaution for drug dealing.

Once he was inside, the teen began "a rapid series of communication" to the shooter, who stayed outside until 7:19 a.m. It was the last time either of those phones were ever used and showed "a pattern of planning and co-ordination," Savage said.

Victims were shot as they slept

At 7:22, doorbell camera footage in the area caught the suspected shooter walking towards the Airbnb.

What happened next was the work of a killer intent on finding his victims at a disadvantage, Savage told the jury.

The shooter used a firearm with an attached suppressor to stay silent.

"I would describe this weapon as the weapon of an assassin," Savage said.

"This is not a gun that you keep in your waistband just in case. This is a weapon that you take and use to kill people."

Courtesy Bell Warriors Football Club
Courtesy Bell Warriors Football Club

The jury heard testimony that the injuries to the victims were consistent with one shooter, advancing throughout the unit, moving from target to target.

Less than two minutes after surveillance cameras spotted them arriving, they captured the shooter — and the teen who helped him — running away from the scene of the shooting.

At 7:27 a.m.,police received the first 911 call about the shooting placed by Akol's brother.

Patrol officers testified they arrived to a unit filled with blood spatter, shell casings and injured victims. Police officers on scene would later find 23 grams of purple fentanyl, powdered cocaine and two loaded handguns — evidence that the victims were armed and would have shot back if they had ever had the chance, Savage said.

Defence lawyers Diane Magas and Marwa Younes did not call any evidence in the case, but told the jury in closing arguments that the tragic events of the shooting didn't mean her 17-year-old client had to pay for it.

Just because an unidentified shooter had a plan, is not evidence that her client aided him, she said.

"The real question is what did my client know?" Magas asked the jury. Was he "played by the shooter," she asked.

The pattern of communication between her client and the shooter could show just as easily that they were communicating as part of their drug-dealing efforts, as it does that they were planning a murder, Magas said. The Airbnb was full of people coming and going that night, she said, any one of whom could have conveyed info to the shooter.

Prosecutors and police offered no motive in the case — a hole that Magas said left jurors to try and figure it out on their own.

"You can't figure it out on the back of my client."

Magas told CBC News after the verdict that she was shocked considering the evidence at trial.

"We will appeal," she said. " In our opinion, it is a wrongful conviction."

A first-degree murder conviction carries with it an automatic life sentence.

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