05/04/2015 01:21 EDT | Updated 05/04/2016 05:12 EDT

Scott Hunter, Toronto Man, Killed After Attending Kentucky Derby


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Canadian tourist in the U.S. to attend the Kentucky Derby was shot to death while fighting off three people who robbed him at random amid the festivities at the famed horse race, police said Monday.

Three people have been arrested in the killing late Saturday. Police say the trio was responsible for a string of armed robberies.

The victim and a friend were walking back to their Louisville hotel, hours after the Derby, when the suspects picked them out to rob, said Louisville Metro Police Lt. Todd Kessinger. The area has several hotels not far from the Churchill Downs racetrack. The robbery appeared to be random, and the tourist was shot during a struggle with the attackers, Kessinger said.

Louisville authorities had not yet identified the victim, but police said he was from Toronto and a bar in the city identified him as Scott Hunter, one of its workers.

A post on the House on Parliament's Facebook page said Hunter was "a tough-as-nails coworker with a heart of gold, always there with a warm hug, shoulder to cry on, (and) a quick grin."

"To Scott's family, we would like you to know what a joy it was to have Scotty in our lives. He was one of a kind, well lived and loved."

Police said they arrested a man, his sister and his sister's boyfriend on Sunday.

Tyrone Thomas Jr., 19, is accused of firing the fatal shots, according to police records. His girlfriend, Fatima Abu-Diab, 20, allegedly drove the getaway car. Her brother, Fahed Abu-Diab, was also involved, police said.

Each was charged with murder and a dozen counts of armed robbery.

Police believe the three committed a string of armed robberies Friday and Saturday around hotels and apartment complexes, coinciding with the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs officials said 170,513 people crammed into the historic track, surpassing the previous attendance record of 165,307 set in 2012.

Police followed up on leads from witnesses to make the arrests, Kessinger said.

"It looks like they were concentrating in a general area and that they were targeting people that were walking on the street or walking through parking lots," Kessinger said.

Tyrone Thomas, 19, Fatima Abu-Diab, 20 and Fahed Abu-Diab, 18, are charged in connection with the killing of Toronto man Scott Hunter.

Court records show Thomas, the alleged gunman, was arrested earlier this year on drug charges. On April 1, a police officer who stopped him in Louisville wrote in a police report that he could smell marijuana wafting from the car. Thomas allowed the officer to search his Chevrolet, where he found three Xanax pills, marijuana and a loaded Smith & Wesson pistol. Those charges remain pending.

Fatima Abu-Diab and Fahed Abu-Diab were also charged Saturday with drug offences.

Fatima Abu-Diab allegedly had a small amount of heroin, loose Xanax pills and several thousand dollars in cash on her when she was arrested, the police report says. She was sentenced to six months in jail last year on a misdemeanour assault charge.

Fahed Abu-diab had 20 loose Xanax pills, marijuana and about $9,000 cash when arrested, the police report says. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to marijuana possession.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said Monday that track officials were saddened by "this senseless tragedy."

"We're encouraged that arrests have been made and we join our entire community in offering thoughts and prayers to the victim's family and loved ones," Asher said.

-- With files from The Canadian Press

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