Michelle Weir was sitting on a bench on Queen Street West, near Peter Street in downtown Toronto, when gunshots sprayed the area still lit by day, sending her, two girlfriends and dozens of other bystanders fleeing for their lives.
“Everyone was screaming and running,” Weir testified Monday in Superior Court, where a jury is hearing evidence in Abdulkadir Handule’s first-degree murder trial.
Weir, a construction project manager, said she ran into a nearby women’s clothing store and was competing with another bystander fleeing through the doors when she felt a sharp pain in her leg. At first, she thought the man had kicked her. Then he saw the wound from the bullet hole and blood running down his leg.
“It felt like someone hit me with a bat,” the soft-spoken woman behind a dark mask testified Monday.
The jury heard that Jahvante Smart was the intended target that Saturday afternoon, June 30, 2018. The well-known Toronto rapper, who performed as Smoke Dawg, had fired multiple shots before being killed. Ernest Modekwe, a hip-hop brand manager, was also assassinated. Modekwe and Weir, there is no evidence that they knew each other, were victims of Smart’s planned and deliberate murder, prosecutors allege.
Defense attorney Dirk Dertsine has admitted that Handule is the man captured in a white T-shirt, white shorts and ski goggles in surveillance videos shown in court. The footage shows him running into the middle of Queen Street, falling down and then picking up a gun before sprinting down the street as pedestrians duck for cover or flee. Witnesses are expected to testify that they saw Handule firing the gun while running alongside Queen, as well as firing multiple shots at Smart as he lay on the ground. Both Smart and Modekwe were shot in the back.
A man in a black hoodie, who was with Handule that day, fired his gun in the direction of Smart and Modekwe, the jury has heard. He has not been identified in court. After the shooting, surveillance video shows Handule and the man in the black hoodie fleeing with another man who was also unidentified.
Before the shooting, Smart and Modekwe can be seen standing on the sidewalk next to barricades outside the Cube nightclub, which was hosting a Canada Day party that warm afternoon. Weir and his friends had been to Cube’s patio before, before leaving the place in search of food.
Weir’s girlfriends went to do some shopping, while she sat on a bench in front of Brandy Melville, a women’s clothing store. Moments after the trio reunited, shots rang out from the direction of the Cube club, then located on the north side of Queen.
Despite her injury, Weir testified that she ran to the back of the store where she was assisted by employees who called 911.
“Did you see who shot you?” Asked Crown’s attorney, Andrew Gibbons.
“Did you see someone with a gun?”
Weir was taken to the hospital where she was treated and released the next day. The jury saw the bullet that was surgically removed six months later.
After Weir was sworn in on Monday, Gibbons asked him if he lived in Toronto.
“Not anymore,” she replied.
The trial continues.