Monday, December 19, 2005

Murder in Chinatown

One day after I wrote about my neighbourhood and its vibrant, eclectic blend of ethnicities and cultures, trouble exploded in a little karaoke bubble tea joint up the street. Several young men got into an argument, and a Chinese student was shot once in the head and his best friend was shot ten times. The assailant(s) fled the scene, and despite the fact that the shootings took place in full view of a full bar, the identity of the assailant was unknown. Word on the street was that it was gang-related, had something to do with grow-ops, and the shooter was Vietnamese.

Apparently word on the street was wrong. Unbelievable as it sounds, the altercation began over somebody taking too long in the bar's only bathroom. About a week later, a cross-Canada warrant was issued for an Asian man, who is now believed to have left the country. Meanwhile, the two dead men's parents have come here to claim the bodies of their only children.

Here are a couple of pictures of the shrine which grew outside the karaoke bubble tea joint in the days that followed, to honour the dead men, and to help light their journey to the other side. If you look closely, you'll see that there are also cigarettes. My understanding is that they believe the deceased person retains their earthly needs as they journey to the other side. Earlier this year there was a horrific fire in Chinatown in which five Cambodian people perished, including children. Their shrine grew daily, and was enormous. It included food, water, cigarettes, flowers, soccer balls, decks of cards, money, notes, photographs, toys, games, and much much more. I wish I had a picture.

A couple of days after the Chinatown murders, a young med student was talking to her boyfriend on the phone when her doorbell rang. She asked her boyfriend to hang on a sec while she checked to see who was at the door, and then he heard her screaming. And screaming. And screaming. The poor guy was driving over to her place at the time, helplessly listening to her screaming. She was stabbed over 30 times in the face, chest and back while neighbours on all sides frantically called police. When the police arrived, the man was still stabbing her. It was an old boyfriend from another city, who had gotten into his car and driven five hours to Ottawa. They had met as teenagers in a gifted program. He was described as a highly intelligent, thoughtful, considerate young man from a good family, who had no criminal or psychiatric history. I feel terrible for all of them - the victim, her boyfriend, her family, the killer, his family. It's just so devastatingly tragic for so many people.

Fortunately, Ottawa doesn't get many murders, considering we've got over a million people. These were only the 9th, 10th and 11th murders of 2005 - but they all took place in the same week, in the last month of the year. I'm glad we don't have many, becase I wouldn't want to get used to it. I wouldn't want to think any murder was unnoteworthy.


At 12/19/2005 02:24:00 PM, Blogger Just Expressing Myself said...

What a riveting post.
I am thinking of the parents - how I feel for them.
I found your blog on 43things.
Take care

At 12/19/2005 03:32:00 PM, Blogger Zoom! said...

Thank you so much for reading it and taking the time to leave a note. :)

At 12/19/2005 03:42:00 PM, Blogger JuliaR said...

I found these murders to be ugly things too but what I noticed was my reaction to them, compared with my reaction to Ardeth Wood’s murder of 2003. They didn’t seem random like hers was. Although in the Chinatown one, they probably didn’t know each other, there was at least the connexion of being in the same place at the same time and some sort of altercation. With Ardeth, it was so random and it could have been me, since I bike on the paths too. It’s interesting how we make our own connexions to tragedies.

At 12/19/2005 04:02:00 PM, Blogger Zoom! said...

I know what you mean Julia...Ardeth's murder made me feel vulnerable, whereas these murders just made me sad.

At 12/20/2005 10:35:00 AM, Blogger Dakota said...

What an interesting but also sad, sad post! I hate these pointless murders. Hmm.. to be honest I hate murders in general. There are so many other ways to solve a problem or a dispute.

I feel for all people involved.


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