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Innocent Murder Victim Identified As Father Who Was Just Passing By

Article by: Staff
Toronto’s latest murder victim was identified Sunday as a 42-year-old father, the innocent victim of gunfire that erupted in the downtown core early Saturday.

Police allege John O’Keefe was passing by the Brass Rail Club on Yonge Street south of Bloor just after 1am Saturday when he was hit with a single gunshot wound to the head. He died at the scene. O’Keefe’s longtime girlfriend told CityNews’ Melissa Grelo he was the father of a nine-year-old son and was walking to the subway after having a couple of drinks in the area.

The alleged assailants were two men who had reportedly been kicked of the club minutes earlier for an altercation before returning to the establishment’s front entrance and firing the weapon. The duo was arrested hours later and stand charged jointly with First Degree and Attempted Murder in Toronto’s second homicide of 2008. The intended target is believed to have been the club’s bouncer.

Edward Paredes, 22, and 23-year-old Awet Zekarias made their first court appearance Sunday.

“Another senseless gun crime, citizens should be outraged,” said Homicide Det. Sgt. Daniel Nielsen. “It could have been anyone, in fact there were at least 10 people milling about in that immediate area on the sidewalk. Any one of them could have been hit.”

Police were able to make quick arrests because largely thanks to witness cooperation as well as footage from video surveillance cameras which helped them identify the suspects.

The men were not known to police prior to the incident and in a strange twist to the story the weapon that was allegedly used in the slaying appears to have been a legal handgun.

“This was a registered handgun and the accused was well aware of how to use it and trained in it and knew that he shouldn’t have it,” Det. Sgt. Nielsen said.

And for those people who walk Toronto’s busy streets everyday, Saturday’s tragedy is reminicent of another brazen shooting death. The Brass Rail is mere blocks from where an innocent 15-year-old girl named Jane Creba was killed when she was caught in an exchange of gunfire on Yonge near Gould while Boxing Day shopping in 2005.

The two suspects are due back in court Monday.