MONTREAL — Residents of a northeastern Montreal borough where a brazen triple homicide occurred during daylight hours on Monday say they fear for their safety, despite police promises to bring down the full strength of the force on those responsible.
Montreal police told reporters Tuesday they are receiving special resources from provincial police to investigate what they called an “unprecedented” shooting at an apartment building that left three dead and two injured. Insp. David Shane said “a few dozen shots” targeted five men known to police, some of whom were inside an apartment and some of whom were outside the building.
Two of the victims were 29 years and old and the third was 63, Shane said, adding that one of the deceased was carrying a firearm. Shane said police did not fear for the lives of the two remaining victims. The gunshots came from outside the building, he added.
Shane said the major crimes unit is investigating with help from the provincial police. No arrests have been made.
“Criminal investigations … have become more complex over the years, and we need specialized units for certain techniques, and these techniques take time,” he said. The investigation, Shane added, will draw on “specialized skills” from Quebec’s provincial police that will reinforce Montreal units.
But the latest shooting in the Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles borough has residents scared for their lives, Lisa Christensen, the local city councillor, said in an interview Tuesday. Some people living near the building thought the shooting was fireworks, she said. “It was a shock to everybody’s system.”
Josée Delisle, who has lived her entire life in the neighbourhood, said the violence is becoming too much for her. She said she doesn’t go out at night anymore.
“I’d like to get out of here,” she said from her home a few buildings over. “It’s my neighbourhood, but I don’t feel safe in my neighbourhood. It’s pretty rough going and I’d like to move.”
Shane said it was too early for police to offer a motive for the shooting, adding that “the majority of violent crimes with guns are attributable to conflicts between criminal groups.”
The building targeted Monday was also hit by bullets on June 5, Shane said, adding that no one was injured during that incident. Shane called Monday’s shooting, which took place at around 7 p.m., “unprecedented in Montreal, and it’s unacceptable.”
Christensen said the shooting has strengthened her resolve to fight back. “I live in that area and I’m not putting my house for sale tomorrow morning,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful end of town … and I’m not going to get pushed out by crime where I live; I’m going to push back.
She recognized that some people might be afraid to contact police, but she said offering a small bit of information — even anonymously — can be key. “People won’t speak out because they are afraid of reprisal, but people around them, tell someone else, pass the message around,” she said.
Shane said, “there is no information that is too small to be shared. Every information counts, every weapon that is seized is a potential victim that is saved.”
Montrealers have witnessed a rise in shootings in the city over the past couple of years. A 15-year-old girl was killed in February in a drive-by shooting in the borough of St-Leonard, next to the district where Monday’s shooting occurred. Later that month, city police created a unit designed to take guns off the street.
Borough Mayor Caroline Bourgeois, a member of Montreal’s executive committee who is responsible for public security, said 350 firearms had been seized in the city since January.
“Enough is enough,” Shane said, addressing those responsible for Monday’s attack. “Starting today you have all the force of the Montreal police on your back.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2021.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press