Rebel nightclub shooter sentenced to life without parole for 18 years after double slaying

Tanade Mohamed, the man responsible for the deaths of Zemarai Khan Mohammed and Tyler McLean in a fatal double shooting outside Rebel nightclub in 2017, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 18 years.

Justice Peter Bawden delivered his decision during an online hearing Thursday, noting that with credit for time served, by the time he is eligible for parole, Mohamed will be 42 years old. Bawden previously found Mohamed guilty of second-degree murder in Zemarai Khan Mohammed’s death and guilty of manslaughter in the slaying of McLean.

Though Mohamed, 28, has previously said in a statement to the court that he is deeply sorry and has acknowledged that his actions have devastated two families and robbed parents of their sons, Bawden said the Edmonton man continues to avoid responsibility and accountability for his actions.

“I accept that Mr. Mohamed wishes that these events had never occurred, but I do not see evidence of genuine remorse at this time,” Bawden said at the judge-alone trial.

The judge handed down specific sentences of 18 years without parole eligibility for Zemarai Khan Mohammed’s murder and 15 years for McLean’s death, but he noted that the law dictates the sentences must be served concurrently. 

Mohamed has been ordered to provide a DNA sample, and has also been handed a lifetime weapons ban.

Bawden ran through the details of the case Thursday, saying that Mohamed came to Toronto two days before the shootings to conduct a large cocaine transaction. He had been selling drugs since 2015, and was out on bail for drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan at the time.

Argument preceded shooting

He said in the early morning hours of Oct. 1, 2017, Mohamed and Abdirisaq Ali went to the nightclub, before leaving at around 3 a.m.

The incident started when Ali got into an argument with McLean because he was talking to two women who were with McLean outside the club.

Things escalated and got physical, before a paid-duty police officer broke it up and told the two groups to separate. 

Friends and family of Tyler Mclean and Zemarai Khan Mohammed put up a memorial after the two men were shot outside Rebel nightclub in 2017. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

After Mohamed and Ali retrieved their vehicle from the valet parking stand, they located Zemarai Khan Mohammed and McLean, court heard. That’s when Mohamed got a gun from underneath his seat with plans to “terrorize” McLean, the judge said.

Mohamed then proceeded to burst out of the car and run at McLean, before Zemarai Khan Mohammed punched him in the head to prevent him from reaching his friend, court heard. 

At that point, the judge said, Mohammed took a step back, reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun before firing at Zemarai Khan Mohammed’s head, killing him instantly.

Mohamed then turned and ran back to the open door of the vehicle, but as he was getting in, McLean tried to prevent the pair’s escape by jumping onto the side of the car, banging on the windows and yelling in an attempt to draw attention.

2nd man shot

It was at this point, Bawden said, that Mohamed fired at McLean through the open door of the vehicle as it began to move, hitting him in the chest. McLean continued to cling to the car for a short period of time before falling off and collapsing.

Police tried to stop the vehicle a short distance from the club, but Mohamed ordered Ali to flee, court heard. The pair evaded police by driving at high speeds on the Don Valley Parkway, and Mohamed threw the gun out of the car, before spending the next 36 hours “methodically” destroying evidence that could connect them to the shootings.

Court heard the shooting happened not long after 3 a.m. (Paul Smith/CBC)

Though Ali was originally charged with two counts of second-degree murder as well, he was acquitted, according to a Toronto Star report.

Bawden spent a large portion of the hearing lauding the character of both victims in the case, noting the rage, sadness and grief their families have been forced to endure.

Parents thought son would be safe in Canada

Zemarai Khan Mohammed, he said, was born in Afghanistan and worked as an interpreter with the Canadian Armed Forces, helping to forge relationships with local officials to maintain the security of Canadian troops.

On five occasions, court heard, he and his Canadian team were ambushed by suicide bombers.

“When Zemarai and his brother moved to Canada, their parents celebrated the fact that they would be living in a safe country,” Bawden said.

“Zemarai Khan Mohammed had risked his life on countless occasions to protect Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. His actions on the night of his death were entirely in keeping with his established character. It was in his nature to endanger himself to save a friend.”

In victim impact statements, friends and family also noted that McLean was beloved and supportive.

“He was truly irreplaceable in the lives of his family and his many friends,” Bawden said, noting that if he had run away when Mohamed shot his friend, he’d likely be alive.

Instead, he ran toward danger, trying to do something to address the senseless killing. That cost him his life, the judge said, but should be recognized for the “heroic act of friendship it was.”

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