Detective Sgt. Steve Berezuik says Hamilton police have done about 20 interviews in connection to the city’s third and fourth homicides of 2020 — a shooting inside the Urban Lounge on Barton Street.
But Berezuik says there were many more people at or near the bar the morning of the murders and likely have a story to tell.
“We’ve been somewhat successful in obtaining statements each day, but there’s certainly many more people out there that we feel have information,” he said. “We would hope that those people that have information reach out to us.”
Early Sunday morning, 39-year-old Jahmal Thomas, of Brantford, and 25-year-old Rhonda Homsombath, of Hamilton, died in hospital after both were hit by gunfire in a targeted shooting at the lounge next to Sam’s Tavern.
Homicide investigators are working on a theory that Thomas may have been the target with Homsombath and two other men — a 38-year-old and a 29-year-old — being collateral damage in a spray of bullets.
“I’m not going to expand as to why or give more information as to why we believe that, that remains evidence. But we do believe that Jamal was the target of this shooting,” said Berezuik.
Officers were initially called out to Sam’s Tavern after a report of a shooting, but later discovered the shooting occurred in the basement of the nearby Urban Lounge.
The four were hit by bullets sometime before 5 a.m. on March 8.
After detectives talked to witnesses, it was discovered that the victims were previously at Zen Lounge attending a memorial celebration for Carel Douse, who was murdered in Hamilton in May of 2019.
Berezuik says the motive of the shooting is still unclear, and that police are looking for just a single suspect.
However, he said homicide detectives are not ruling out the possibility there were two shooters.
“To explore the option of the second shooter is something we’re looking at,” Berezuik said. “I don’t want to get into too many specifics in terms of the reasoning behind that, because we get into the evidence at that point, and I’m not at liberty to speak to that.”
Detectives say the suspect they are looking for is a man with a thin build who is about five feet, 10 inches tall and in his early 30s. It’s believed he had short braids and was wearing dark jeans or pants and a track suit-style zip-up jacket.
After speaking with witnesses and analysis of other evidence, investigators say there were about 100 people in and around the bar during the shooting.
“Without doing a specific headcount, we’re estimating at this point there would be upwards of 100 people that had been in that downstairs urban lounge at the time of the shooting,” Berzuik said. “That leads to many potential witnesses.”
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact police at 905-546-3825 or reach out to Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 or online.