Toronto Rebel nightclub shooter faces life in prison, 18 years without parole

The man convicted of killing two friends outside a Toronto nightclub as he sought revenge for a minor dispute four years ago will face life in prison with 18 years before he can apply for parole.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Peter Bawden said Tanade Mohamed showed sorrow for the deaths of Afghan interpreter Zemarai Khan Mohamed, 26, and club promoter Tyler Mclean, 25, but he did not show remorse.

“The sentence is at the highest end of the range for a first time offender and reflects the gravity of the offence,” said Bawden at the virtual sentencing hearing, pointing to the aggravating factors that included Mohamed’s cocaine dealing, the ease with which he carried his firearm, and how he attempted to destroy evidence after the fact.

“In a long statement to the court he says he is deeply sorry. Although I accept the sincerity of those words, I do not agree they exhibit genuine remorse. There is a difference between sorrow and remorse,” Bawden said.

Mohamed had been convicted of second degree murder in the death of Zemarai Khan Mohammed, and of manslaughter in the death of Tyler Mclean. Bawden said the pair were friends who were unarmed, doing their best to protect each other that night.

Khan Mohamed was born in Afghanistan and he and his brother worked with the Canadian military for four years as interpreters. He was also known as Amir Jamal. He and his Canadian team were ambushed by suicide bombers five times, and faced a risk of death or serious injury from land mines each day, the judge said.

“When Zemarai Khan Mohammed moved to Canada, his parents celebrated that they would be living in a safe country,” Bawden said, noting that Khan Mohammed played the peacemaker throughout the tragic events outside the club.

“He had acted to protect soldiers in Afghanistan. His actions were consistent with his character. It was in his nature to endanger himself to protect his friends.”

McLean was a club promoter with a vast network of friends and family who cared about him deeply, and who was on the cusp of starting a new business with his father.

“Of all the cruel facts in this case, perhaps the hardest to contemplate is the realization that if Tyler McLean had turned and run he would likely be alive. Instead of running away, he ran directly towards the danger…that decision cost him his life. It should be recognized for the heroic act of friendship it was,” Bawden said.

Mohamed’s life sentence with 18 years before being eligible for parole is for the second degree murder conviction. For manslaughter, Mohamed will face a 15 year sentence that will be served concurrently. He will also be required to provide a DNA sample and have a lifetime weapons prohibition.

The judge said Mohamed had a troubled upbringing, with a father who left and difficulty at school. He worked sporadic jobs before an economic downturn in Alberta around 2014, and afterwards he started selling cocaine and carrying a gun.

Mohamed was on release from drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan when he came to Toronto to conduct a “large cocaine transaction” and obtained an illegal handgun, the judge said.

On October 1, 2017, he and associate Adisiraq Ali went to the Rebel Nightclub, and as they were leaving, they started a conversation with two young women at a hot dog stand. Mclean, who was friends with the women, told Ali to back off, the court heard.

A short time later, Mohamed threw a water bottle at McLean, a police officer broke up the fight and Khan Mohamed tried to calm his friend down.

Mohamed returned to his vehicle, where he had left his gun, and watched McLean for almost two minutes, plotting to “terrorize” him, the judge said. Then he ran towards McLean. Khan Mohammed punched him in self defense, and Mohamed shot him in the head.

McLean banged on the car as it sped off, trying to draw attention to the shooting, and Mohamed shot him in the chest. The car then sped off at high speed down the Don Valley Parkway.

“Over the next 36 hours he and Ali methodically destroyed all evidence that could connect them to the nightclub,” Bawden said. “He gave a lengthy statement to police in which he adamantly denied any involvement in the shooting. He advanced a false alibi the night of the shooting and berated the interviewing detective for arresting the wrong man.”

By the trial, Mohamed testified he acted in self-defence in the death of Khan Mohamed and that the death of McLean was due to an accidental discharge of the firearm.

“Both those defences were disproved by the crown and he was convicted of second degree murder. I could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to shoot [a second time]. Accordingly, he was found guilty of manslaughter in the unlawful killing of Tyler McLean,” the judge said.

Ali was acquitted of the murder charges. Mohamed's is not a “crushing sentence”, said Baweden, pointing out that Mohamed will be eligible for parole at 42.

“Depending on his approach, it is possible he will be able to return to the community for the second half of his life,” Bawden said. “The same cannot be said for the victims and the family.”