A convicted Calgary gangster is wanted on Canada-wide warrants in the death of an innocent bystander in a car crash that orphaned the victim’s five children last week.
Police originally deemed the collision a result of a road rage incident involving gunfire but now believe it began as a targeted attack on another driver.
Talal Amer, 29, faces charges of attempted murder, manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm, possession of a prohibited firearm with an obliterated serial number and several other gun-related offences.
Amer was once charged with six counts of attempted murder in connection with a violent Calgary street war around 2015.
He ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser offences and had about three years left to serve on his 7½-year sentence handed down in May 2019.
Amer is now accused of chasing and shooting at a man who was driving a Volkswagen Jetta. The incident led to two uninvolved vehicles being struck in a Forest Lawn intersection.
Angela McKenzie, 40, died in the crash, leaving behind five children, who had lost their father three months earlier.
Amer ‘the aggressor,’ police allege
Police initially described the situation as an escalated road rage incident but now say the investigation has led officers to believe the shooting was targeted with the driver of the Jetta being the the intended target.
Those inside the Jetta “did not exchange gunfire as previously thought,” said police in a written release issued Monday.
Police say Amer was the only person in what has been determined to be a stolen Chevy Silverado.
Investigators allege Amer “was the aggressor” and pursued the Jetta, shooting at it before ultimately colliding with McKenzie’s vehicle.
“Our investigators have worked day and night to identify the person responsible for the tragic death of Ms. McKenzie,” said the homicide unit’s Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson.
“This incident was a careless and senseless display of violence in our community, and we believe that Talal Amer was solely responsible for the death of Ms. McKenzie.”
Last Tuesday, just after 11 p.m., police received several calls about gunfire and two vehicles driving erratically along 36th Street S.E.
Several homes were struck by gunfire, and two uninvolved vehicles were hit at 17th Avenue S.E.
Calgary’s 2015 gang war
In 2015, Calgary had 100 shootings, double the number over the previous year.
Amer and members of his family, including his brother and cousins, were involved in a bloody street war between gangs around that time.
Amer was charged in 2016 with instructing the commission of offences for a criminal organization plus six counts of attempted murder.
He ultimately pleaded guilty to recklessly discharging a firearm and conspiracy to traffic drugs after four people were shot at on Nov. 29, 2015, while sitting in a Cadillac Escalade parked in a residential neighbourhood.
Amer said he was leaving life of crime
Amer and his brother were both sentenced to 7½ years in prison. With credit for time served, they had about three years left behind bars.
During his 2019 guilty plea, Amer said he had accepted responsibility for his actions and wished to move forward with his life.
One of the distinct characteristics of the gun and gang violence around 2015 was family connections.
That year, the Calgary Police Service’s guns and gangs unit compiled a list of about 60 people considered “high-level” participants in the gangs. The idea was to help front-line officers identify them and determine if any were breaching court-ordered conditions.
On that list were several members of the Amer family, including Talal, his brother Barakat and two cousins, Badar and Abdul.