The crime reporter who survived an assassination attempt

A Montreal crime journalist found himself at the centre of a violent story when someone shot him six times outside his workplace 18 years ago.

Journalist Michel Auger was shot six times on Sept. 13, 2000 ... and lived

Journalist Michel Auger survived a shooting in the parking lot of the newspaper where he worked. 0:52

Even for a veteran crime reporter, it was a scary story — especially when it left him en route to hospital and his desk cordoned off with police tape.

Michel Auger's colleagues waited for updates on the veteran crime journalist after he was shot in the parking lot of the newspaper's offices on Sept. 13, 2000. (The National/CBC Archives)

On the morning of Sept. 13, 2000, Michel Auger was ambushed in a parking lot outside the offices of Le Journal de Montréal.

He was shot six times in the back by a shooter who fled the scene. Auger used his own cellphone to call 911.

Police found a gun, a silencer and a stolen car two blocks from the scene of the shooting. The same vehicle had been seen in the parking lot when Auger was hit.

In hospital, he was guarded by police — and his exact whereabouts were kept secret for security reasons.

The attack came just a day after the paper published a story Auger had written, which analyzed a spate of killings involving members of organized crime.

Twenty police officers were involved in the investigation into the shooting, according to CBC's The National. Investigators viewed the attack as an attempted murder.

"It wasn't a message being sent, a threat being sent, an intimidation — they wanted to kill Mr. Auger," said Montreal police Commander André Boucher.

'It's not like being a political reporter'

Michel Auger's desk at Le Journal de Montréal is seen with police tape around it on the day he was shot by an assailant in the newspaper's parking lot. (The National/CBC Archives)

During his three decades as a crime reporter, Auger had dealt with threats in the past and knew the risks involved with his work.

"It's not a question of being afraid, but it's not like being a political reporter," Auger said, when speaking in French with a reporter the day before he was shot.

The incident marked at least the third time a crime reporter had been shot in Quebec — with prior incidents seeing a reporter shot in the legs in 1995 and another reporter was shot inside a newspaper office in 1973.

Not what he'd expected

Two months after Auger was shot, he agreed to speak to the CBC's Lynda Calvert about the attack. He said he never thought his work would put him at risk of death.

Two months after being attacked, Michel Auger talks to CBC News about the incident. 0:32

"I always thought that there was a possibility — a vague possibility — of violence," said Auger, who admitted to feeling surprised to survive the attack.

Auger would return to work as a reporter and later retired from his job at the newspaper in 2006.

A man who provided the weapon used to shoot Auger would serve time in jail. But as of the time of Auger's retirement, the person who shot him had not yet been brought to justice.