A gang associate who shot at an SUV – striking the driver – outside a Surrey strip club in 2009 has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years jail.
Aram Ali, 30, was found guilty last November of aggravated assault and discharging a firearm with intent to wound in connection to an incident near the T-Barz night club in Surrey seven years ago. He was sentenced in December 2015 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver and the judge’s reasons were recently posted online.
With credit for time already served in pretrial custody, there are three-and-a-half years remaining of his sentence.
Ali was a passenger in a Lincoln Navigator driven by Barzan Tilli-Choli, a United Nations gang leader who is currently in prison for offences related to this incident and other offences, including conspiring to kill the notorious Bacon brothers – rival Red Scorpion gang members.
Ali and Tilli-Choli had driven to T-Barz, near 104 Avenue and 137 Street, shortly before closing and went inside briefly, before returning to the Lincoln. According to court documents, when a Range Rover carrying four people left the area, Tilli-Choli directed Ali to shoot, which he did.
Ali fired eight shots from a semi-automatic pistol. One bullet hit the Range Rover driver’s shoulder and another grazed his ear.
Tilli-Choli and Ali sped from the scene, toward Vancouver, and Ali threw the loaded pistol from the SUV’s window, as directed by Tilli-Choli. A passerby found the gun a few hours later.
During the trial, Ali didn’t deny shooting the gun, but testified he only intended to hit the vehicle, not the occupants, as a scare tactic.
While initially charged with attempted murder, the judge found Ali guilty of the lesser offence of aggravated assault, saying Crown prosecutors failed to prove Ali “specifically intended to kill a person.”
In sentencing him, Justice Heather Holmes maintained Ali’s moral culpability in the shooting was very high.
“He behaved like a mercenary, prepared to shoot a person for money, and to put other people at very serious risk,” said Holmes. “He did so in order to support what he knew to be Mr. Tilli-Choli’s criminal lifestyle and therefore to gain a trickle-down income from that lifestyle.”
She said it was “sheer luck” no one else was seriously injured or killed in either vehicle and said throwing the loaded gun from the window posed an “unthinkable” risk to the community – if a child had found the gun, for example.
Ali had been free on bail since August 2011 and living in Calgary with his parents. The court heard he has been working legitimate jobs continuously and held his current job as a sawman since July 2014.
Ali has no criminal recording pre-dating the nightclub shooting offences. Born in Iraq, Ali’s refugee status in Canada is under review in light of his convictions, Holmes said.