UPDATE: Whyte Ave attack ruled a homicide
EDMONTON – The Medical Examiner has determined a man’s death Saturday morning on Whyte Avenue was a homicide. The cause of death was head trauma.
Homicide detectives investigating the death of Raad Hamza, 24, are urging witnesses to come forward. Police said Hamza was assaulted by two other men, outside The Billiard Club on 105 Street.
“The three individuals were inside the club for the night, spending their Friday night, Saturday morning socializing with friends,” said Det. Dale Johnson, EPS Homicide Section. “They were not together, but indications are they at least were acquainted with each other.”
Police said the men moved outside around 2:30 a.m., and Hamza was attacked.
“The assault happened very quickly, it likely transpired in less than 10 seconds,” said Det. Johnson, who does not believe any weapons were used.
Bar staff quickly sought the help of some patrol officers a few blocks away. An unconscious Hamza was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he died. Police said he never regained consciousness, so they were not able to ask him questions about his attackers. Police said Hamza was known to them.
Investigators believe there were as many as six people standing on the sidewalk nearby, who were in a position to witness the attack. Speaking to the media on Sunday, Det. Johnson encouraged those witnesses to come forward – saying they can’t take for granted that police will solve the case without their help.
“We can’t replace eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses are vital. They are able to provide context to the event, they hear things that obviously video doesn’t pick up. They hopefully can and will testify in court. They are important to all our investigations.”
Police stressed that The Billiard Club has been very helpful in assisting detectives with the investigation. “We do not believe that this assault reflects upon the management or the bar itself,” said Det. Johnson.
“Historically, The Billiard Club is a very well-run establishment. It’s just a situation that occurred outside their establishment on the side walk.”
Johnson acknowledged that scuffles are not uncommon along Whyte Ave, a popular party strip full of bars, pubs and clubs. In recent weeks Edmonton Police began CAT (Community Action Team) Deployments in and around Whyte Avenue, in an effort to reduce violence leading up to the holidays.
Hamza’s death is Edmonton’s 27th homicide of 2014.
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