The Hamilton Spectator

‘I couldn’t move’: Survivor recounts the harrowing moments before deadly shooting

Jordyn Romano said something was ‘off’ with her friends on the night her boyfriend was killed; Oliver Karafa and Lucy Li have pleaded not guilty to murder charges


Jordyn Romano sat in the car and tried to make small talk. There was time to kill.

The then-26-year-old testified on Friday that she had arrived to the industrial warehouse at 347 Arvin Ave. a few minutes earlier with her boyfriend, Tyler Pratt, who’d just flown into Hamilton after a weekend in Vancouver visiting his kid.

The couple were there to meet a few friends, Oliver Karafa and Yun (Lucy) Lu Li, as well a realtor to discuss launching a joint marijuana grow-op at the Stoney Creek property.

On this evening, Feb. 28, 2021, Pratt would be shot dead and Romano shot in the heart. She survived, but lost her pregnancy.

Karafa and Li are on trial for firstdegre­e murder and attempted murder. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Romano, then 13 weeks pregnant, testified in court Friday that the realtor was late and the door to the property was locked.

As an evening sky darkened over Stoney Creek, she went back to her Range Rover, hoping to warm up in the passenger seat as they waited for word from the delayed realtor. Pratt followed suit.

“Tyler came to turn the car on for me,” Romano testified in court Friday, adding Pratt then quickly waved Li over to take his seat. “He said, ‘Lucy, sit in the car with Jordyn. It’s cold. So she came to the driver’s seat and Tyler got out of the car.”

The pair were on good terms, friends and business partners who partied together and talked about travelling in the future. A few days earlier, Li had visited Romano at her new Toronto condo, asking the latter about her upcoming baby shower and where it’d take place, the jury heard. That night, after the meeting, the couples were set to dine at a lavish Oakville restaurant thanks to a reservatio­n Li made.

But something about Li felt off that night, Romano testified.

While Romano was dressed to the nines in preparatio­n for dinner with a light beige sweater, black pants and thigh-high boots, Li “showed up in rags,” Romano said.

Li slid into the driver’s seat of the Range Rover while “nervously texting” and barely raising her head. “She comes in the car and couldn’t even look at me,” Romano recalled.

Pratt and Karafa waited outside the car — the former standing a few feet behind the driver’s side rear corner and the latter a few steps ahead of the passenger door. Romano asked Li how her weekend was.

“Good, fine,” she remembered Li responding.

“What did you do?” “Nothing. We drank on Thursday.”

Silence ensued.

Romano testified that the quiet Li then got out of the car, leaving her to slide over to the driver’s seat to keep the heat running.

As she settled in, she looked to her right and froze.

It was Karafa, his eyes wide and lips clenched, standing next to the passenger window while gripping a gun aimed directly at Romano.

“I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move. Oliver was standing like this,” Romano testified, rising from the witness stand and extending her arms to mimic Karafa’s alleged body position. “His face is shaking and his eyes are open, pointing the gun at me. And I just froze.”

While Romano cried as she detailed the harrowing double shooting that left her in a coma and her boyfriend dead, there was no emotion shown by Karafa and Li.

The Crown is arguing the two couples were friends, and that Karafa and Li enticed Price and Romano into business investment­s, including an alleged fraudulent life insurance policy.

Karafa is alleged to be the gunman in the incident.

The jury previously heard that, following the shooting, Karafa and Li allegedly disposed of vehicles and evidence before fleeing to Europe, where they were arrested in Budapest, Hungary, more than three months later.

While the jury heard Romano answer various questions about the business dealings the two couples had Thursday, on Friday they got the only surviving victim’s account of what happened behind the Stoney Creek warehouse.

Romano, who was in a coma following the incident, testified her memory of the shooting is limited to various “flashes.”

Among those were that, just before she was shot in the chest, Karafa allegedly grabbed her by the collar and said, “Get out of here, Jo,” Romano testified.

Romano said she put her Range Rover in reverse and “floored it,” exiting the warehouse lot and heading down Arvin Avenue for what she described as a few kilometres. As she was leaving, she testified she heard multiple gunshots.

The jury previously heard Pratt — who was standing to the rear of the Rover’s driver side when it was parked — was shot six times.

Romano also testified about the immediate aftermath of the shooting. She recalled flashes of driving down Arvin and then crawling on the road on her hands and knees, asking for help from a driver that had pulled up next up to her.

“I remember being on the ground and a man and woman standing over me, and then I remember someone saying, ‘Hang in there, sweetie.’”

The jury heard evidence Wednesday from Annette Bright, who testified coming across Romano while driving to a gas station with her boyfriend. She phoned 911.

Romano testified she couldn’t recall seeing Pratt shot. But she said she remembered hearing his voice as she franticall­y put her car in reverse, a cacophony of gunshots accompanyi­ng her boyfriend’s last words.

“His last words were, ‘Oliver, what the f---, bro?’ ” she testified. “He said it more than once as I was reversing.”

 ?? CATHIE COWARD THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR ?? Jordyn Romano leaves the John Sopinka Courthouse with family and friends Friday afternoon after testifying.
CATHIE COWARD THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR Jordyn Romano leaves the John Sopinka Courthouse with family and friends Friday afternoon after testifying.
 ?? HAMILTON POLICE ?? Oliver Karafa and Yun (Lucy) Lu Li are on trial for first-degree murder and attempted murder. They have pleaded not guilty.
HAMILTON POLICE Oliver Karafa and Yun (Lucy) Lu Li are on trial for first-degree murder and attempted murder. They have pleaded not guilty.

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