The family of 16-year-old homicide victim Jal Acor Jal is pleading with northwest Calgary residents to come forward with any information that could help the investigation into the fatal shooting.
Jal was found dead by police at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, after receiving reports of an injured person at a green space behind the 100 block of Arbour Meadows Close N.W. Calgary police said Monday during a press conference the homicide is being investigated as a shooting.
“At this time, the family and the Calgary Police Service have teamed up together to solve this case, or rather to look for answers. But we cannot do it by ourselves, we need your help. We need your voice,” said Akeir Kuol, Jal’s aunt, during the press conference.
“We are pleading with the Arbour Lake community and the nearby communities, if anyone has seen anything, if you have heard anything, please come forward.”
Jal’s death was the first of three fatal shootings in Calgary last week, though the three deaths are not believed to be connected, Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson said.
Gregson explained there might be multiple scenes related to the teen’s death, so investigators are requesting residents in the area where the body was found, in the 200 block of Schubert Place N.W., and the 100 and 200 blocks of Scenic View Close N.W., as well as nearby areas, come forward if they noticed any unusual activity between 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday.
Residents are also encouraged to check video footage from security, doorbell and dashboard cameras, and to look on their properties for anything suspicious or that may have been discarded.
“No matter how minor you think it may be, please come forward and report it to the police,” he said.
Investigators need help from the public about this incident, Gregson said. Police do not believe Jal’s death was random but all avenues are being investigated.
Gregson said many people have been interviewed over the past four days, including Jal’s schoolmates, coaches and members of the public.
“To lose someone at the young age of 16 is both shocking and tragic,” he said. “Investigators have now heard a lot about who Jal was.”
Gregson said one coach recalled meeting Jal when he was just 10 years old, having never played football before.
“His coach was full of pride remembering how Jal became one of the best players on the team. And he was described as kind, respectful, easy to coach with dreams of playing football or basketball in the U.S.,” Gregson said.
Jal competed on the junior basketball and football teams at St. Francis High School.
The Calgary Catholic School District said in a statement to Postmedia it was saddened to learn of the loss of a student. Counsellors are available to support students who may need that assistance during this difficult time, the school board said.
Achan Acor Jal, another of Jal’s aunts, said that Jal lived with his grandmother in Calgary, and helped and comforted her.
“His presence would light up the room when he enters. His soul was so pure. Jal was so loving and thoughtful,” she said. “His friends and his family miss him.”
Kuol said the tragedy has broken many hearts.
“No one is ever prepared to lose a 16-year-old,” she said. “It would mean so much to understand why this happened. It would mean so much to also put awareness in the community of how dangerous it is out there and awareness to parents. As a mother of four, I fear for my children as well.”
The family also thanked the community for their financial support. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $15,000 in donations to cover funeral costs.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234 or provide tips anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or calgarycrimestoppers.org.