Mohamed Alhilo and Mohammed Hasan, who were at the central Hamilton mosque with Al-Hasnawi, said they ran to where the 19-year-old was lying on the ground, following behind his father and two teenage brothers, when they heard he had been shot.
“They were grabbing him and they started shaking him hard,” said 22-year-old Alhilo, who had been sitting beside Al-Hasnawi at the Al-Moustafa Islamic Centre that night. “I can see his hands clenching very hard, like someone that is hurt.”
Heartbreaking video of the arrival of Yosif Al-Haswani’s remains for the funeral at the mosque last night. Many attendees spoke to the media & expressed their anger at his death https://t.co/kPYBVKwg1B #Yosif #HamOnt pic.twitter.com/oESWW5eOJA
— Samantha Craggs (@SamCraggsCBC) December 5, 2017
Hamilton’s emergency services would not comment on specific allegations but have launched an internal investigation. Witnesses said paramedics did not believe the shooting victim’s injuries were real and took their time getting him to hospital — where he died shortly afterward.
Al-Hasnawi was shot outside the mosque on Main St. East near Wentworth St. after trying to stop two men from harassing an older man on the street.
Hasan, 25, described Al-Hasnawi as “reacting like his soul was going out.”
“He’s trying to tell us something but his mouth was so dry,” he said.
Amin Al-Tahir, director at the mosque, said the ambulance left the scene without sirens or flashing lights.
“I think if they acted really quickly, they can save his life.”
Hamilton EMS Deputy Chief Russell Crocker promised a thorough investigation and said he could not comment further as the investigation has started.
EMS spokesperson Allison Jones said that the Ministry of Health will conduct its own investigation.
The deceased, a Brock University medical sciences student, was hailed by police as being a hero after he intervened when two men were harassing an older man.
On behalf of the Citizens of Flamborough-Glanbrook and my Parliament colleagues our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Yosif Al-Hasnawi! ‘Good Samaritan’ shot dead trying to stop altercation in Hamilton. https://t.co/8XpY7CPgdi via @torontostar
— David Sweet (@DavidSweetMP) December 4, 2017
“This young man was doing what he felt was right in the situation,” Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told reporters. “He was a brave young man.”
Al-Hasnawi was taking a break from a religious celebration at the Al-Mostafa Islamic Centre about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
When he noticed the older man suffering abuse, Al-Hasnawi called out for the two harrasers to stop.
“He saw an old man walking by here with two people who were trying to harass him, assault him, hit him, laughing at him,” one witness told reporters. “He only told them, ‘leave the old man alone.'”
The men had “an interaction” with the Muslim youth and a shot rang out.
It turned out he was seriously wounded, but Amin Al-Tahir, a director at the mosque, said when paramedics arrived, they told the victim he was fine and indicated that he was acting.
“He told them, ‘I can’t breathe’,” Al-Tahir said.
Another witness, Tom Raczynski, who lives in the area, said paramedics kept saying he was “faking.”
“The one paramedic kept saying, ‘Oh, you’re a good actor’,” Raczynski said.
Hamilton Paramedic Services said in a statement Monday that an investigation into the incident is underway.
It is also not clear why Al-Hasnawi was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital when there was a trauma center at a closer hospital.
Bereziuk said Al-Hasnawi and his family immigrated to Canada from Iraq in 2008.
The police officer said the victim was trying to do the right thing.
“He was being that Good Samaritan,” Bereziuk said.
People took to twitter to react to the tragedy.
This is a disturbing account of how a young shooting victim was handled. The truth needs to surface.
‘I can’t breathe’: Witness, Muslim leader question how Hamilton paramedics treated dying teen https://t.co/Ec1u1h06h1
— Farrell Hall (@farrellwhall) December 5, 2017
Heavy-hearted. Not only from the senseless violence, but from the accounts of lack of urgency for treatment. Treatment which could have saved his life.
R.I.P Yosif, I’m sorry you were taken for doing the right thing & I’m sorry this world can be so cruel. https://t.co/wZgzZ8Kheb
— ja’miil corin (@millarjae) December 4, 2017
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) December 4, 2017
My heart is broken.
— Dr. Duraid AlJailawi (@duraidali) December 4, 2017
— Paul Mason (@PaulMason2) December 3, 2017
How incredibly sad to lose a brave young hero. My condolences to his family.
— Bruno (@bvencanada) December 4, 2017
This is heartbreaking. What a courageous young man. What a horrible loss for the community. https://t.co/WnrALODLEn
— Jeff Bolichowski (@JeffB_Media) December 4, 2017