Calgary police release victim's identity, suspect photos in fatal downtown shooting

Calgary police have identified the victim of Sunday’s fatal shooting as 31-year-old John Mitchell Smith Jr.

“We are devastated by his passing,” his family said in a statement via police Wednesday night.

“A huge piece of us is gone. Our family is forever broken. He is left behind by his family and girlfriend, whom he truly loved.”

John Mitchell Smith Jr., 31, died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. On the left, Smith is pictured with his sisters, Sade and Krystal Smith. On the right, Smith is pictured with his mother, Cylon Bates.

John Mitchell Smith Jr., 31, died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. On the left, Smith is pictured with his sisters, Sade and Krystal Smith. On the right, Smith is pictured with his mother, Cylon Bates.

Courtesy: Smith family via Calgary Police Service

They said Smith was not only a brother and son but also “our best friend.”

“He had a heart of gold, was brilliant, funny, talented, driven and authentically himself. He was truly a revolutionary embodiment of Black joy,” his family said.

“He made everyone around him feel seen, heard and empowered to self-love. He was a protector.”

John Mitchell Smith Jr., 31, died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith was an avid basketball coach and player.

John Mitchell Smith Jr., 31, died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith was an avid basketball coach and player.

Courtesy: SAIT Trojans

‘Excelled on and off the court’

Police said Smith moved to Calgary a few years ago from Washington to play college basketball.

“John excelled on and off the court. He was a mentor and trainer to youth in the States and Calgary,” his family said.

“He was also the president of the Black and Indigenous student union and a budding model. He planned on returning to SAIT to finish his degree in business administration and play his final season of basketball.”

John Mitchell Smith Jr., 31, died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith was an avid basketball coach and player.

John Mitchell Smith Jr., 31, died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith was an avid basketball coach and player.

Courtesy: Smith family via Calgary Police Service

A statement sent to Global News from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology on Wednesday night said the school community is saddened by the death of the former SAIT Trojans men’s basketball player.

“We have always considered John to be one of our own, and we are devastated. Our community is close-knit, and this loss has affected us all,” SAIT’s statement read.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and teammates of John in this difficult time.”

SAIT Trojans vs. Augustana in Calgary on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. John Mitchell Smith Jr. died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith was an avid basketball coach and player.

SAIT Trojans vs. Augustana in Calgary on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. John Mitchell Smith Jr. died after being shot outside a Calgary nightclub on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith was an avid basketball coach and player.

Courtesy: Azin Ghaffari/SAIT Trojans

Shooting recap

Smith was shot outside Junction Underground, a nightclub located at 628 8 Ave. S.W., on Oct. 10.

Investigators believe that he left the nightclub with a female friend at around 2:30 a.m. when two men, who were loitering outside, “started making unwanted sexual advances on and physical contact with his friend.”

Police believe Smith intervened and a fight ensued, ending with the suspect drawing a gun and “shooting the victim as well as accidentally shooting the acquaintance, who was loitering outside the club with the suspect.”

Read more:
Calgary police homicide unit investigating deadly downtown shooting

The shooter ran east along 8 Avenue S.W., police said.

The second man drove to the hospital in a black Mercedes sedan with B.C. licence plates. Police said he is being “unco-operative.”

Police said Smith was taken to hospital but died from his injuries.

“John was a victim of a random crime,” said Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta with the Calgary Police Service homicide unit in a news release on Wednesday.

“He was a man that volunteered countless hours coaching basketball and serving with organizations that make our city a better place.

“Helping his friend cost him his life, and we will do everything we can to bring his killer to justice.”

Suspect images released

Also Wednesday, officers released suspect photos and asked for the public’s help identifying him.

Police released this photo of the suspect in the fatal downtown Calgary shooting on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.

Police released this photo of the suspect in the fatal downtown Calgary shooting on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.

Calgary Police Service

Police described him as six feet tall with a tattoo on his neck and dark wavy hair. He was wearing a white Nike tracksuit top, blue jeans and white runners.

On Wednesday, Calgary police released these photo of the suspect in the fatal downtown shooting on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.

On Wednesday, Calgary police released these photo of the suspect in the fatal downtown shooting on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.

Calgary Police Service

If you have photos or video from the area that night — especially of the suspect or Mercedes — contact the police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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