Vicious Saint-Henri attack raises concerns among residents

A 22-year-old man was walking home from St-Henri Metro when he was jumped by a group of men who pinned him to the ground and kicked him in the face repeatedly.

André Hobson, 22, suffered injuries to his eyes, jaw and nose

André Hobson was jumped by about five men on Notre-Dame Street West. He holds up a picture taken days before the attack. (Elysha Enos/CBC)


  • Montreal police say two more muggings have taken place in Saint-Henri since this attack.

André Hobson was walking home from Place St-Henri Metro Thursday night when he was jumped by a group of men who pinned him to the ground and kicked him in the face repeatedly.

Two Good Samaritans saw Hobson, 22, being attacked and intervened.

One was on the other side of Notre-Dame Street West in Montreal's Saint-Henri neighbourhood and started screaming at the assailants before calling 911. The group ran off through a parking lot at the sound of someone nearby.

Another man, Lou Panizzi, saw the events play out from about a block away and rushed over.

He said it wasn't the first time he'd seen something like this — he said he has been attacked while walking alone and his brother had been as well.

"It's just the young people in the neighbourhood," Panizzi told CBC News. "When they gang up on you there's nothing you can do if you're alone."

Lou Panizzi was one of the witnesses to Thursday night's attack. He is considering moving out of Saint-Henri to protect his family. (Elysha Enos/CBC)
Panizzi is considering leaving the neighbourhood because he says he's worried about the safety of his two daughters.

He waited with Hobson until the ambulance came and stayed in contact with the family afterward to see how he was recovering.

Montreal police are investigating what happened to Hobson but weren't able to give CBC News any details.

'He could have died'

Panizzi said the attack didn't last long, but that doesn't mean it wasn't severe.

"He could have died if they hit him longer," Panizzi said.

He guessed the attack lasted 10 to 20 seconds, adding that the men involved were wearing boots and kicking Hobson repeatedly in the face.

Panizzi said the assailants were all outfitted in hoodies and wearing bandannas or surgical masks to hide their faces.

Hobson said he had noticed them as he was exiting Place St-Henri Metro station around 10:30 p.m., but by the time he realized they were following him, there were no more restaurants or bars he could go into.

André Hobson was attacked half a block west of de Courcelle in Saint-Henri. (Elysha Enos/CBC)

"They followed me for a few blocks and then pushed me down from behind and started to kick my head," said Hobson.

'Could have been worse'

Hobson has been living in Saint-Henri with his mother for about four years.

"This is my baby and he hates hospitals," Hobson's mother Donna said.

Donna Hobson says she's relieved the 2 bystanders helped her son as quickly as they did. (Elysha Enos/CBC)
"To see him lying in a stretcher [at the hospital] … with a neck brace on gave me a good scare. I thought, 'Oh my God is that him?' I'm just grateful there wasn't a knife involved. It could have been worse."

In the days following the attack, Hobson says he is afraid to go outside and worries for his mother when she leaves their apartment.

His injuries include a black eye, stitches, broken nose and fractures to his cheek. He also says his jaw is hurting more each day.

Hobson said his attackers didn't appear to care about robbing him. However, his wallet did fall out from his pocket during the attack and they took it. There was $10 inside.

Following the attack, Hobson's sister started a crowdfunding campaign to help boost the pair's morale.

How to increase safety?

People in Saint-Henri are expressing concern on community Facebook groups about violence in the area after seeing Hobson's story circulating on social media, along with several other recent accounts of attacks.

On a Facebook post about how to increase safety in Saint-Henri, Southwest borough city councillor Craig Sauvé recommended citizens go on exploratory walks with a group called Prévention Sud-Ouest.

On them, citizens can identify areas where they feel unsafe and work on solutions together.

There is a borough council meeting for the Southwest Dec. 6 and Sauvé is encouraging citizens to take part in the meeting and raise their safety concerns with the local Montreal police Cmdr. Sylvain Parent, who will be in attendance.