Brother of teenager killed in Ottawa wonders why road rage killed his life

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Eric Hewer’s brother says he accepts the 19-year-old shares responsibility for an altercation with three teenagers in July, but wonders why it must have cost him his life.

Eric was celebrating his 19th birthday with a friend in Ottawa on the warm evening of July 26, when a confrontation with three teenagers on electric scooters – aged 15, 16 and 17 respectively – erupted when Eric’s friend did what the police said was a pilot error and they started chasing a number of blocks.

It deteriorated into a physical confrontation between the teens and ended with Eric stabbed in the stomach and in the heart. He died almost instantly.

Ottawa Police homicide detectives announced on Wednesday that they would not charge the 16-year-old boy who fatally stabbed Eric, saying they believed the teenager acted in self-defense.

“Everyone involved here played a role in Eric’s death, including him,” said his brother, Brendon Hewer.

Brendon, 27, said he wouldn’t defend his brother’s actions, but wonders if there would have been a different outcome if one of the teenagers hadn’t had a gun.

“I believe if that person wasn’t carrying a knife that day it would just have been assault charges, probably on both people because everyone had the option to leave, everyone sued. , and Eric was the one who paid the ultimate price, ”he said.

The teens continued the altercation for 20 blocks

Brendon said he was kept abreast by the senior homicide detective on the case, until police decided not to lay charges after consulting with prosecutors.

What follows is an account of what happened that night, pieced together from details provided by Brendon and sources familiar with the matter.

It started as a case of what some might call “road rage” between people who were supposed to share the road.

The altercation between the two groups began, sources said, after the teens hopped on electric scooters towards Rideau Station from Lansdowne.

According to Brendon, Eric was driving as a passenger in the car while his friend, who was also injured in the double stab wounds, was driving the car. CBC News does not name the friend.

Brendon said police told him the two groups clashed for the first time after a driver error by a friend of Eric’s that sparked 20 blocks of continuous confrontations between the teens on scooters and cars. men inside the vehicle.

CBC News did not hear testimony from the teens and could not contact their lawyers.

This back-and-forth included scooter drivers cutting the vehicle, insults and curses from the two groups, a verbal confrontation which saw Eric exiting the vehicle before getting back up as well as an attempt by the friend to Eric, who was driving the car. , back up and go, Brendon said.

The scene of Ottawa’s 12th homicide in 2021, seen here on July 27, is on Albert Street near Metcalfe Street. (Patrick Louiseize / CBC)

The perpetrator fled but returned to defend his friend

Eventually, the two groups arrived in the area of ​​Metcalfe and Albert streets where Eric and his friend got out of the car after the teens made a threatening gesture to throw stones at the vehicle, Brendon told police.

The two men approached one of the teenagers and physically assaulted him, he said. His brother punched the 17-year-old in the face and received the same in return, Brendon said. Eric and his friend then put one of the teenagers to the ground, which was when Eric’s friend kicked the teenager in the shoulder, Brendon said.

According to sources, the 16-year-old boy fled after the physical confrontation started but returned after seeing his friend being beaten.

Brendon says police told him the 16-year-old pulled out a “pocket knife,” a one-bladed folding knife, and stabbed Eric’s friend in the stomach. Eric with his fists raised then approached the 16-year-old, who then stabbed him once in the stomach and once in the chest, Brendon said.

Eric and his friend were unarmed, Brendon said. He doesn’t want his brother to be remembered as a violent monster and instead calls it a tragedy involving five teenagers.

“He made a mistake that day, and so did everyone else, and he didn’t deserve to lose his life,” Brendon said.

“He didn’t have to die”

Since 2016, Ottawa Police have refused to lay charges in only two homicide cases because they concluded they were in self-defense, according to CBC files on all cases and homicide charges in Ottawa.

Detectives consulted with prosecutors on Wednesday and told Brendon that even if they were to lay a charge, there would be no reasonable prospect of conviction, he said.

Brendon said it’s tragic to think his younger brother’s life was cut short just as it began. He was working at a local hardware store in Nova Scotia, where job opportunities are scarce, when he decided to move to Ottawa to start a new job. A move that Brendon, too, once made with the same goal.

“[Eric] left to improve his life and earn a lot of money, “said his brother.” It’s just a tragedy. And he didn’t have to die that day. He didn’t have to die.

“Everyone lost that day, including the person who stabbed my brother. Nobody won.”


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