Police, family offering $80,000 reward in unsolved murder of Edmonton father
www.thestar.com | May 26, 2018
EDMONTON—Two years after 63-year-old Gherezghiher Yemane — also known as Gary — was shot to death while out for his usual evening walk, police are offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Standing Friday in the northeast neighbourhood where he was killed, his wife and daughter said they would match the police reward.
Yemane was shot multiple times while walking near Ozerna Road between 69 Street and 165 Avenue on May 27, 2016 around 8:45 p.m., police said.
When police and paramedics found him lying on the sidewalk, he was already dead.
Yemane’s wife Abeba Ghebregzabhir stood by her daughter Winta Berhane’s side, wiping tears from her eyes as Berhane read statements on behalf of the family pleading for someone to come forward with information.
“We are troubled trying to understand and grasp what happened to our father on May 27, 2016,” she said. “It’s unfathomable that his life has been taken away so violently.”
Yemane’s death, the 23rd homicide of 2016, remains unsolved. Police hope that the reward spurs developments in the two-year-old case.
Staff Sgt. Bill Clark said Yemane was minding his own business, out for his evening walk, when a man got out of an older-model Dodge Charger, walked up to Yemane and shot him multiple times.
“This crime was definitely a random act of violence,” Clark said speaking near the scene of the homicide on Friday. “We have a very good idea of people involved and we now are able to offer up a $40,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”
Clark said there was more than one witness in the vehicle, and police hope they may still come forward.
“There was absolutely no reason for this man to be murdered,” Clark said. “This man was a pillar of the community. He was originally from Eritrea in Africa and he immigrated to Canada. It’s very surreal that in his early life he fled war-torn countries in Africa, he comes to Canada for the peace and tranquillity and he ends up getting murdered. This is a tragic event.”
Witnesses saw an older black Dodge Charger leaving the area southbound on Ozerna Road. The driver was described as an East Indian man in his late 20s to early 30s, with short dark hair and an average build. Police said he was wearing a dark sweater and blue jeans.
Yemane was not known to police and his family said he was very involved in the community, Clark said. Police followed all investigative avenues trying to find out why Yemane was the victim.
“This man had no enemies, none at all,” Clark said.
Police believe it was a case of mistaken identity and a random act of violence that was “totally uncalled for,” he said.
‘Generous, caring, loving’
Berhane remembered her dad, a registered nurse, as someone who made sacrifices for the family while teaching love, compassion and the value of a strong work ethic.
While Yemane worked in the United States for eight years as a nurse, he always was there for Christmas and birthdays.
“He sent my mom flowers every Valentine’s Day, wedding anniversary, birthday, on the clock at 8 a.m.,” Berhane said.
Berhane recalled a time when her dad asked if she was going to use a jacket she hadn’t worn. She told him he could take it.
He gave it to a co-worker who always looked cold. The woman later told Berhane she couldn’t afford a jacket at the time and thanked him for his generosity.
When Yemane would visit with friends from Eritrea and he would see nothing in the fridge, he would disappear for two hours and return with grocery bags full of food.
“My dad was that guy. He was generous, caring, loving and thought of everyone,” Berhane said.
Friends and family flew from all over the world for his funeral two years ago at Gateway Alliance Church, she said. The church had a capacity of 750 people, but more than 1,200 came to mourn.
Berhane said she struggled to understand how her father could leave a war-torn country and move to an upper-middle-class neighbourhood only to be randomly murdered on the street.
“It doesn’t make any sense, it’s not fair,” she said.
In a statement read by her daughter, Ghebregzabhir called the murder of her husband a “total shock” and a “nightmare.”
“I’m asking anyone with any information about my beloved husband, my best friend, to please come forward, to bring his murderer forward, to talk to the police to give us some justice and eternal peace to know that the man who murdered my love is put away so he cannot hurt anyone else or my family again,” Ghebregzabhir wrote.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a cellphone.
Clark said they need a person to give police a statement and be willing to take the witness stand.
“We need someone to put a lid on things, to give us that key piece of information to help us arrest that individual and put him away where he belongs,” Clark said.