A raucous gathering of young people in Hamilton’s east end in the early hours of Sunday led to the city’s sixth homicide of the year.
Natshon Defreitas, 19, of Toronto died at Hamilton General Hospital about two hours after an incident that took place on Beach Rd. near Kenilworth Ave. N.
At 4:15 a.m. Sunday, Hamilton police received a 911 call for 470 Beach Rd., the site of a small one-storey light industrial building.
A young man was the victim of a suspected gunshot at the address. People on the scene then placed the victim in a car, apparently attempting to drive him to hospital.
Near the intersection of Ottawa St. N. and Dalhousie Ave., the vehicle came upon a crew from the Hamilton Fire Department who were attending another incident. Defreitas was then transferred to an ambulance and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 6 a.m.
A resident in the area of 470 Beach Rd. said a group of nearly 20 young people showed up just before 4 a.m. in four cars and three cabs at a nearby parking lot.
The woman, who did not want to be identified for safety reasons, said this was the third weekend in a row that a large group of young people had gathered in the early hours. She said the group had also gathered there the previous night between about 2 and 4 a.m.
She said the group congregated around the abandoned Wayside Lunch restaurant at the corner of Beach Rd. and Stapleton Ave., just a couple of buildings away from 470 Beach Rd., and that she could hear yelling.
“Then I just heard a scream,” the woman said. “Everything went quiet and they all got in the cars and took off.
“I feel bad now because I didn’t phone the cops,” the woman said, starting to cry. “I didn’t know they had killed someone.”
The woman said she didn’t hear any gunshots before the scream and only learned it was a homicide Sunday morning when a police officer knocked on her door.
A police spokesperson said many details of the incident are still sketchy and no suspects have been identified.
“We’re really in the infancy of this investigation,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Bereziuk of Hamilton police’s major crime unit.
“I don’t know what that location is used for and the nature of the premises,” he added.
Police cordoned of the building at 470 Beach Rd. and the adjacent parking lot, which has a scattering of construction vehicles and cars.
Police spent Sunday canvassing the area looking for people who may have seen or heard anything around the time of the incident. A police mobile command unit was also parked at the scene.
Ottawa St. was blocked off Sunday morning at the railway tracks near Beach Rd. as a team of investigators searched for evidence in the parking lot of a gas station at the northwest corner of Ottawa St. and Dalhousie Ave.
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has information about it can contact Det. Andrew Coughlan of the major crime unit at 905-546-3874. Anonymous reports can be made by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or crimestoppershamilton.com.
Steve Buist is a reporter with the Hamilton Spectator. Reach him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.