Saturday October 7, 2017
'I was just shocked. He was such a nice person,' says friend of Abdullahi Sharif
"When I met him, he was honestly the sweetest, nicest person I talked to. He was really outgoing, a really funny guy. He had really good character."
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, faces 11 criminal charges including five counts of attempted murder. (Edmonton Police Service )
Until now, no one has stepped forward to acknowledge a relationship with Abdulahi Sharif.
"Susan" was shocked when she found out her friend was accused of such serious crimes in the wake of the U-Haul truck attack and police officer stabbing in Edmonton.
"I call him Abdul," she said.
The last time "Susan" saw Sharif, they only had time to exchange a hug and a hello. They ran into each other at an Edmonton shisha bar in late May — the same spot they first met nearly two years ago and became friends. A shisha bar is a lounge where people can smoke a communal hookah.
"Susan" is not the 19-year-old's real name. She asked CBC News to protect her identity out of concern for her safety and the safety of her family.
Sharif is currently in the Edmonton Remand Centre, charged with five counts of attempted murder after last weekend's attack on a police constable and a high-speed chase on a downtown street that injured four pedestrians.
She described Sharif as "a very gentle soul" who said he "loved kids."
"Just a typical young guy," Susan said. "He just hung around with us. He didn't talk about any religion or anything. He would just crack jokes. He was just a funny, outgoing guy."
'I don't think he's a terrorist'
Susan said she can't imagine her friend randomly attacking innocent people.
"I don't think he's a terrorist," she said. "I really don't."
CBC News has been told Sharif is being housed in the remand centre's mental health unit on what appears to be suicide watch.
But "he seemed like a pretty normal guy," Susan said. "It didn't seem like he had any mental illness."
Sharif shared some details about his past with her.
"He told me about Somalia," she said.
"He told me that it was pretty much being in war every day. That country was so bad, you'd walk down the streets and you'd see a dead person on the sidewalk," she said.
"He hated it there."
Susan said Sharif told her he decided to leave Somalia after he witnessed his friend's father shot in front of them.
According to American officials, Sharif walked into the United States on July 12, 2011, at a busy border crossing just south of San Diego. He would have been 24 years old at the time.
He came into Canada sometime in 2012 at an official port of entry. Canadian officials confirm Sharif went through the "regular process" and was granted refugee status later that year.
Susan said Sharif told her he liked living in Canada.
"He said that being in this country was really peaceful. He would rather be here than Somalia."
If Sharif is ultimately tried and convicted, he could face deportation back to Somalia after serving his sentence.