Shooting at Canada wedding venue leaves two dead

Two weddings were taking place at the venue when gunfire erupted outside, sending shocked guests scrambling for safety.

Published: 04th September 2023 06:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2023 06:42 PM   |  A+A-

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MONTREAL: Two people were killed and six others wounded late Saturday in a shooting in the parking lot of a reception venue in Ottawa, authorities said.

Two weddings were taking place at the venue when gunfire erupted outside, sending shocked guests scrambling for safety.

"It was chaos, there was no general direction of where people were running, it was just everywhere," Nico, who came to the wedding to pick up his friend, told AFP, declining to give his surname.

"It was rapid shots, and then there was screaming, and then there was a pause, and then there were more shots, probably like 15-16 more shots that I can recall," Nico said.

The shooting began at 10:21 pm Saturday (0221 GMT Sunday) in the parking lot of a south-end convention hall where two separate wedding receptions were being held simultaneously.

Police "said to stay in our vehicles. We could not leave the scene," the witness said.

Ottawa police confirmed that fatalities were of two men, aged 26 and 29, both from Toronto, Canada's largest city.

Police said that Americans were among the six wounded but that their lives were not in danger. Their identities were not released.

"We are in the process of connecting the pieces of the puzzle," Martin Groulx, police inspector, told AFP about the ongoing investigation.

He said police had no sign for now to suggest the shooting was a hate crime "related to race or religious beliefs."

"But we do not eliminate this option," he added, specifying that the investigation had yet to determine a motive.

As of Sunday afternoon, no arrests had been made.

The two deaths from the shooting bring to 12 the number of homicides recorded in 2023 in Ottawa, Canada's capital, which has a population of about one million.

Several Canadian cities have seen a marked increase in armed violence in recent years with increasingly frequent shootings, according to the Canadian government.

Since 2009, the country has seen an 81 percent increase in violent gun crime.

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