Toronto: Edward Paredes and Awet Zekarias guilty of murder of innocent bystander John O’Keefe

Shooter guilty of murder in Brass Rail slaying

Edward Paredes and Awet Zekarias are seen in court on Monday, Jan. 14, 2008.

Updated: Thu Apr. 01 2010 1:55:22 PM

A Toronto jury has found one man guilty of second-degree murder and another guilty of manslaughter in the 2008 shooting death of John O’Keefe, an innocent bystander on Yonge Street.

Edward Paredes, 24, who pulled the trigger, was found guilty of second-degree murder. The Crown argued his friend, Awet Zekarias, 25, urged him to do so but the jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder but guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The pair were involved in an incident with security staff at the Brass Rail strip club, south of the Yonge-Bloor intersection, on Jan. 12, 2008.

The Crown said after being removed from the club, Paredes shot his legally registered semi-automatic handgun at security staff, but hit O’Keefe in the head, who was walking along the sidewalk.

The bullet killed O’Keefe instantly. He had a then-nine-year-old son.

O’Keefe worked as a health store manager in downtown Toronto and was walking north to the subway at about 1 a.m. after leaving the Duke of Gloucester pub at Yonge and Charles Streets.

The jury began deliberating late Monday and returned to ask the judge a number of questions.

Parades had argued he did not shoot at anyone and fired his gun to scare security.

The trial judge has yet to impose a sentence.

Family, detective react


“‘There’s a huge void, as we miss John very much — His wonderful sense of humour, his hearty laugh and his love, kindness and compassion for others.'”

The family said he lived by the following words: “‘Do to no one, what you yourself dislike.’ This tragedy would not have happened, and we would not be here today, if everyone lived by those rules’,” Nielsen said.

The detective said he was happy with the verdict, saying he felt the jury took its job serious and “rendered a fair and proper verdict.”

He called it a senseless crime, noting that Paredes was a legal gun owner who broke the law by packing his pistol to the Brass Rail that night.

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