Edmonton homicide detectives are investigating after an “alleged mob assault” led to the death of a 42-year-old man over the weekend.
Police said two men were assaulted early Sunday morning while walking in the area of 97 Street and 119 Avenue.
Officers were called at around 3:20 a.m. and arrived on scene to find a 42-year-old man lying unconscious on the sidewalk.
The EPS said the two men were reportedly walking down 97 Street when a group – four men and two women – came up to them and tried to start a fight. The men – who didn’t know the suspects – ignored them and kept walking, police said.
The suspects allegedly assaulted the men, “repeatedly punching one… in the face, while pushing the other to the ground, before repeatedly kicking the 42-year-old man in the head,” police said in a news release.
It’s believed the group ran away, leaving one man unconscious and the other with minor injuries.
Paramedics arrived and were able to revive the 42-year-old but he died from his injuries Sunday afternoon in hospital.
An autopsy confirmed 42-year-old Leonardo Duran Ibanez, of Colombia, died from “injuries consistent with severe head trauma.”
The victim’s brother-in-law told Global News the two were walking home together when the attack happened.
“My brother-in-law lifted up the hands,” Elias Malkum said. “He said, ‘take it easy. What is wrong? Why are you making fighting? I’m not fighting. I have no problem with you guys.’ The guy said, ‘I don’t care.’ He punched his hand in his face and my brother-in-law falls down. His head broke the fall. The people didn’t care. They were putting their feet to his face too many times.”
He said he stayed with Ibanez until police arrived.
“I go and fall down to take care of my brother-in-law and I tell my brother-in-law, ‘please don’t go, don’t die. Wake up. I love you so much. Wake up! Don’t die. Please!'”
Malkum said he had a hard time giving suspect descriptions to police because it was so dark at the time.
According to family, the victim was a father, always working hard in his community.
“Leo, for my family, is a good person,” Malkum said. “Never fighting, never in a bad situation.”
Malkum came to Canada because he wanted a better life.
“I tell all my friends in Colombia, I say, ‘In Canada I don’t see too many people killed.’ I’m always talking good about Canada. Beautiful city, beautiful everything,” he said. “Now, everyone in Columbia is saying, ‘What is going on? Why did they kill your brother in law?'”
Now, Malkum wants to move out of the neighbourhood.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to raise the roughly $22,000 it will cost to bring Ibanez’s body back to Colombia.
“Mr. Ibanez was visiting our fair city from Colombia – visiting family members – and by all accounts, was out having an enjoyable evening with another family member when – this attack was unprompted and unmotivated,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said.
Pattison also appealed for any potential witnesses to come forward.
“Maybe we have a pizza delivery person that was in the area, somebody who may have been working the early morning hours that was travelling through that area … that maybe seen a group of individuals southbound down 97 Street toward 118 Avenue at that time.”
Ibanez’s friend, Jairo Marbello, went to the bar with Malkum and Ibanez but left a little earlier. When he got home, he realized he had forgotten his key and walked back towards the bar when he came across his Ibanez lying in the street.
He said things like this aren’t supposed to happen in Canada.
“I came from a violent country,” Marbello said. “I just escaped from there to live a better life here. I never expected this to happen to us, to be honest.”
He is warning residents in the area to be vigilant until the suspects are caught.
“There is a lot of bad people around this area,” Marbello said. “They are waiting for somebody just to walk around here and they start attacking them for no reason. Please, be careful around this area.”
Marbello is also urging police to track down those responsible for his friend’s violent death.
“You have to do the best to find those guys because it was Leonardo last night on the ground, but tomorrow, it could be anybody,” he said. “So please, do your best, find those guys and make justice for us, please.”
The man’s death is Edmonton’s 40th homicide of 2016.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on police information, this article originally identified the victim who died as Leonardo Duran Ibarez. Late Tuesday afternoon, Global News spoke with the family of the victim who said his last name was actually Ibanez. At 4:53 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2016, the article was updated to reflect the correct information.