Calgary police have released photos of a suspect connected to the random shooting death of a 31-year-old man outside a southwest nightclub.
Police were called to the Junction Underground Nightclub around 2:40 a.m. Sunday after reports of a shooting outside. The victim was taken to hospital and later died.
Calgary police have since released the victim’s identity. John Mitchell Smith Jr, 31, was ID after an autopsy done on Tuesday. Smith moved to Calgary from Washington state to play college basketball, police said.
Investigators said that Smith left the club with a female friend around 2:30 a.m. Two men outside the bar started making unwanted sexual advances and physical contact with Smith’s friend. Smith intervened and an altercation ensued that resulted in the suspect drawing a gun and shooting him, police said.
The suspect also accidentally shot the acquaintance who was outside the bar with him.
His family released a statement through the Calgary police.
John was not only a brother and son, but our best friend. He had a heart of gold, was brilliant, funny, talented, driven and authentically himself. He was truly a revolutionary embodiment of Black joy. He made everyone around him feel seen, heard and empowered to self love. He was a protector.
John excelled on and off the court. He was a mentor and trainer to youth in the States and Calgary. He was also the President of the Black & Indigenous Student Union and a budding model. He planned on returning to SAIT to finish his degree in Business Administration and play his final season of basketball.
We are devastated by his passing. A huge piece of us is gone. Our family is forever broken. He is left behind by his family and girlfriend, whom he truly loved.
The shooter fled the scene: Police
“John was a victim of a random crime,” said Staff Sergeant Martin Schiavetta with the Calgary Police Service Homicide Unit.
“He was a man that volunteered countless hours coaching basketball and serving with organizations that make our city a better place. Helping his friend cost him his life and we will do everything we can to bring his killer to justice.”
According to police, the shooter fled the area on foot, heading eastbound on 8 Avenue SW. The second man left the scene in a black Mercedes sedan with BC licence plates. He drove himself to the hospital. That man has not been cooperating with police, they said.
Police canvassed the area on the day of the shooting and then again after businesses reopened after the Thanksgiving holiday. They collected CCTV footage from the area.
The suspect is being described as six feet tall with dark, wavy hair. He also had a visible tattoo on his neck. Police said he was wearing a white Nike tracksuit top, blue jeans and white runners.
Investigators are looking for more dashcam, cell phone or CCTV footage to help with the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Calgary police at 403-266-1234.