‘Ottawa’ First-Degree Murder Charge in Death of Maniwaki Teenager
Still reeling from shock, friends and family of 18-year-old Bret Jerome held a vigil outside the Maniwaki home Monday where he was found dead the day before.
A few blocks away, his accused killer appeared in court to face first-degree murder charges.
Police allege Amik Mitchell, 22, fired the shot that killed Jerome following a Saturday night house party on Cartier Street in Maniwaki.
Mitchell is due back in court July 14. He did not have legal representation Monday.
The relationship between the two young men is unknown, though police said both hailed from the nearby Kitigan Zibi reserve.
Neighbours on the quiet Maniwaki street called police early Sunday morning to report a disturbance and a gathering of young people at the house party. When Quebec provincial police arrived around 5 a.m., they found Jerome unconscious on the street, suffering from a gunshot wound. He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police questioned and then arrested Mitchell at the home. Major crime detectives interviewed “numerous” witnesses at the scene, according to Sûreté du Québec spokesman Sgt. Marc Tessier.
Police did not say whether a weapon was recovered.
According to Jerome’s family, a wake will be held in Kitigan Zibi on Tuesday, and the family will hold a memorial at Jerome’s mother’s house in Rapid Lake on Wednesday, followed by a burial service.
His sister, Christa Jerome, said the family was originally from the community of Barriere Lake, about 230 kilometres north of Ottawa and 100 km north of Maniwaki.
Jerome, who is survived by four brothers and two sisters, was an avid hunter, fisherman and a talented hockey player. His sister described him as “very outgoing, he was always happy and smiling.
“He loved to joke around with a lot of people. He enjoyed playing sports, especially hockey. He loved being out in the bush … He was overall a great, awesome, kind, respectful jokester brother,” said Christa Jerome. “He was always a good kid but I guess he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. We all loved him very much. He was gone too soon, too young.”
Several friends said they were too distraught to participate in a powwow held in Maniwaki over the weekend, and several Sunday events were cancelled in the wake of the tragedy.
“My heart is so hurt today with the news of today’s tragic event regarding some Anishinabe youth in the town of Maniwaki,” wrote former Kitigan Zibi chief Gilbert Whiteduck on Sunday.
Jerome’s cousin, Daniel Jerome, penned an emotional plea to the youth of the community.
“Keep an eye on each other, light (your) fires and sit with each other, have tea and snacks, let’s treat each other equal, let go of parties, please, we don’t wanna see any more youths leave us too soon … let’s go back to being a healthy community, strong people! Wake up our spirits and make our minds stronger than before, unite our youths and keep each other safe.”
A video montage of Jerome was posted to Facebook, showing the smiling youth hunting, fishing, playing hockey and clowning around with his friends and family.
One friend named Trinity wrote on Facebook: “To me this is like a very long nightmare that I can’t wake up from, I still can’t believe it, I don’t wanna believe it … At such a young age, (your) life was just beginning.”
She went on to denounce the scourge of drugs and alcohol, and said she hoped Jerome’s death would serve as a “wake-up call.
“We gotta start learning how to work together and we need to stop acting like the people we see in the movies (because) that ain’t us … We from the Rez, fishing, hunting and stuff. That’s our thing, (we’re) supposed to be peaceful people. We don’t kill each other, we’re supposed to work together not be against each other. It’s very sad to see what this generation has become, what this world is becoming too.”
With files from Evelyn Harford