Suspect in 3 seemingly random killings shot dead by Montreal police
Police were confronted by armed 26-year-old man during operation, BEI says
Montreal police say officers shot and killed a suspect at a motel on Marcel-Laurin Boulevard in the Saint-Laurent borough on Thursday morning, following a spate of seemingly random shootings in and around the city.
Investigators believe the 26-year-old suspect, Abdulla Shaikh, was involved in three shootings in less than 48 hours in Montreal and Laval.
As a result of Shaikh's death, there are now two investigations: one looking into the three fatal shootings on Tuesday and Wednesday that has now been taken over by the Sûreté du Québec's major crimes unit, and another that will focus the actions of Montreal police (SPVM) during the operation that killed the suspect.
That investigation will be taken over by Quebec's police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).
The SPVM had already confirmed the two Montreal shootings were likely committed by a single suspect and may have been random.
According to the BEI, officers from the SPVM's tactical squad began searching the motel around 7 a.m. this morning.
The BEI says police were confronted by a man who had a firearm, and shots were fired.
The man was hit by at least one bullet and was pronounced dead at the scene, the bureau says.
Seven BEI investigators will be looking into the Montreal police department's actions during the intervention.
During a meeting with reporters, Sophie Roy, interim chief of the SPVM, said this week's three fatal shootings "cannot be tolerated."
"The sense of security of Montrealers is, and will always be at the heart of the SPVM's concerns," Roy said. "Montrealers should feel safe to walk in each neighbourhood at all times and all places."
Darrell Holmes, who has lived in Montreal's Saint-Laurent borough for decades, said this week's shootings — and other recent incidents in the area — had him thinking of moving to a different part of the city.
"I took an Uber last night to work because I wasn't going to stand on the corner of the street waiting for the bus after knowing what was happening the last two nights," he said. "I told my wife 'you're not leaving today. You can't go out until they find the person.'"
Sources confirmed to Radio-Canada that the two victims in Montreal were 64-year-old André Lemieux, who was killed in the Saint-Laurent borough, and 48-year-old Mohamed Salah Belhaj, whose body was found in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough.
Lemieux is the father of professional boxer David Lemieux.
The victim in Laval was 22-year-old Alexis Levis-Crevier.
Provincial police take over investigation into 3 killings
In a statement Thursday morning, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said it will be taking over the investigation of the three homicides at the BEI's request.
Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau, who speaks for the SQ, met with reporters near the motel where the suspect was shot on Thursday and said it appears he acted alone. Bilodeau also said Montreal police had come across the suspect in 911 calls about mental health.
Bilodeau said it's too early to say if that has anything to do with this week's shootings.
"What we know, for now, is this person does not appear to be linked to organized crime," Bilodeau said. "Now, did he have other motives? That's a bit of what our major crimes investigators will try to establish."
Until more is known about the suspect's motives, it's hard to say if he planned to target more victims, Bilodeau said.
For the second consecutive day, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tweeted about the shootings and offered her condolences to the victims' families and loved ones.
"The investigation is ongoing in order to understand this tragic series of events. It is during these moments that we must all work together and trust our authorities in a common goal of ensuring the safety of our population," Plante tweeted, before thanking the SQ, the SPVM and Laval police for their work.
On Thursday, the federal government announced it will be committing nearly $42 million to help fight gun violence in Quebec.
With files from Shuyee Lee and Radio-Canada