Gilmour Street homicide victim was a young west-end rapper and former football star
January 9, 2020
Ottawa police homicide detectives are probing the city’s first killing of the New Year after an 18-year-old man from Ritchie Street was shot dead and three other males were injured in early morning gunfire at an Airbnb in Centretown, the latest incident of targeted gunfire at a short-term rental.
Police and paramedics responded at about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to reports of several people shot at the rear of a home at 490 Gilmour St., between Lyon and Kent streets. The residence had been operating as an Airbnb.
Once emergency crews arrived, they found one man without vital signs, who was pronounced dead on scene, and three other injured males, aged 15, 19 and 20.
All three wounded were described as being in serious condition early Wednesday evening.
The slain 18-year-old man has been identified as Manyok Akol, once named one of the top 90 youth football players in the province, and who’s been rapping as FTG Metro, proudly representing the city’s west side.
Akol is from Ritchie Street in the Britannia Woods housing development and while his music and videos shine a light on the area and its hardships, in them he also flashes gang signs and wads of cash. He raps of being shot at and of having his own friends plot against him. The songs tell a story of being caught up in circumstances, but a video with other Ritchie Street rappers also simulates a white powder being cooked over a stove.
In Akol’s video for a song called “Rainy Days,” which begins with a voiceover from an Ottawa Sun video and shows torn headlines from news articles about gun violence in the neighbourhood, Akol raps, “They ain’t going to take me out, best believe imma make it out, out of this vacant house,” as a Ritchie Street sign appears in the frame. Images of uniformed police flash across the screen throughout the song, as does what’s made to look like a police flow chart connecting events and people in the neighbourhood with red string.
“I swear to God we been through rainy days and cloudy days. I know we thugging but I swear that we was better raised,” he raps. The video was posted on YouTube just three months ago.
Akol has no criminal record in Ontario. The young man, in 2018, played on the defensive line in an Ontario football tournament for the top players in Ontario. And in 2014, he was an Ontario Varsity Football League provincial champion with the Myers Riders Bantam Football Team.
In the moments after Akol was shot, early reports of an active shooter on scene spread like wildfire as residents in the neighbourhood woke up to the sounds of sirens and a large police presence on Gilmour Street. That later gave way to city police describing the shooting as a “targeted” incident. No arrests have been made but police believe there is no active concern for public safety.
Ottawa police reiterated around 11 a.m. that there were “no national security implications related to this incident,” and instead city detectives began probing a familiar set of circumstances — a shooting at an Airbnb rental with potential links to drug and gang activity.
Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said Wednesday morning that police had increased their presence in the area. Sloly said that, to date, there have been six people shot in Ottawa in 2020. The top cop planned in the next week to announce an “enhanced overall strategy to better address street violence,” both in the short and long term.
Kacey Griffiths lives two doors from the address where the shooting occurred. She witnessed police searching the area with guns drawn.
She said the owner had added several apartments to the house, which were accessible by a door at the rear.
According to property records, the home at 490 Gilmour St. is owned by a family holding company. Efforts to reach the company or its representatives were unsuccessful. The company owns two properties in Ottawa: the site of the shooting and the house immediately next door at 488 Gilmour St.
Griffiths said she’s lived on Gilmour Street for a long time and disturbances are common. Last spring there had been another shooting at the address. That time Griffiths heard the shot and gave a report to police.
Indeed, in May 2019, police responded to many 911 calls reporting the shooting around 5:37 a.m. They found shell casings and a vehicle that had been hit but no victims of gunfire.
Police recovered a firearm behind the home, but continued much of Wednesday searching the area outside the home for any additional evidence.
Gilmour Street is lined with historic homes, with some still housing single families and others divided into apartments.
Wednesday morning’s shooting is the second targeted homicide to occur at an Ottawa Airbnb since 2018 but it’s just the latest incident of gunfire at a ghost hotel in this city.
In October 2018, Guled Ahmed was gunned down as he was entering an Airbnb on Carruthers Avenue in Hintonburg, where he was going to crash after a long night celebrating a wedding. He didn’t book the rental but showed up after the fact. Just hours later, another Airbnb, also on Gilmour Street but not where Wednesday’s shooting occurred, was hit by gunfire with another man injured.
Police have since dealt with case after case of bullets fired at or into Airbnbs and growing community complaints about the activity occurring at them, whether it’s violence or even noise complaints.
Municipal lawmakers have been attempting to regulate the growing industry but in the absence of that regulation, officers say, these short-term rentals are becoming havens for criminal activity.
Unlike traditional hotels that come with security video cameras, high traffic and paid security guards on the premises, ghost hotels are often cheaper to book and come with less eyes on what’s happening inside, police say. City police are finding that in instances where violence breaks out, the person booking the rental is rarely at the home and there is a degree of anonymity in the booking. Adding to the situation is that homes are often owned by people who don’t live in the neighbourhood, or are rented by property managers. Police say they find there is little allegiance to the communities in which they are situated. It’s a “perfect scenario,” says one officer.
In a statement to this newspaper, Airbnb said: “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy.” The company called gun violence “abhorrent” and said “our hearts go out to all who have been impacted.”
Airbnb said staff have been in close touch with the city and police to support the investigation. Airbnb has also deactivated any listings associated with 490 Gilmour St. as they investigate further and have removed the person who booked the rental from the platform.
Source: Ottawa Citizen