Neighbours in Ahuntsic-Cartierville mourn beloved depanneur owner stabbed inside shop

Mr. Yong, who owned and operated Depanneur de Lille for 15 years, was fatally stabbed inside his shop earlier this month.

Mr. Yong owned and operated Depanneur de Lille for 15 years

Following the stabbing on Nov. 6, people started leaving things like notes and flowers outside the shop in memory of its owner. (CBC)

For 15 years, Mr. Yong was behind the till, seven days a week, at Depanneur de Lille on Henri-Bourassa Boulevard with a smile on his face.

On Friday Nov. 6, he was fatally stabbed inside his shop in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. He was 49.

CBC News is only identifying him by his last name at the request of his family. Montreal police are still investigating and have yet to make an arrest in connection with the incident.

Following the stabbing, neighbours created a makeshift memorial around the depanneur, which remains closed for the time being. 

Some stayed by the memorial for hours, while others were coming and going, paying their respects and trading stories about Yong.

From time to time, Yong's wife would open the depanneur door, to offer candy to a child at the vigil, or to ask if any of the neighbours needed a snack or a drink.

Priscilla Barbosa Teixeira was among those who came out to pay their respects for Yong. (CBC)

Priscilla Barbosa Teixeira, who lives on the corner right next to the depanneur, said she still has trouble believing Yong is gone.

"He was almost my family, my second family," she said.

Barbosa Teixeira, who co-organized the vigil, said Yong was always watching out for his neighbours, ready to lend a helping hand.

For instance, she recalled, Yong would interject when she kept coming back to buy scratch-and-win lottery tickets after COVID-19 shuttered bars.

"He was like, 'no, stop putting your money on that, it's not good.' He's the owner, he's not supposed to tell me that, you know? You have to do sales," she said.

Julie Gougeon, who brought her seven-year-old son Laurent to pay his respects, said he always liked going to see "Mr. Depanneur," because Yong would always sneak a little candy to the local kids.

He always listened to your stories, Gougeon said. If you showed up to the depanneur in a bad mood one week, she said, Yong would always ask if you were feeling any better the next time he would see you.

Working crazy hours for his kids

Calvin Wu, a cousin of Yong's, said the family is still in shock, with things happening so quickly.

Yong leaves behind a wife and three children, aged 16, 14 and eight.

The reason he worked so hard, putting in long hours seven days a week, Wu said, was so that his kids would have a chance at a better life. 

While the youngest of Yong's children was at school, the two older children saw their father collapse, Calvin said.

The family lives above the shop and when they heard a commotion downstairs, they ran outside only to see their injured father through the glass storefront.

"It's actually even harder. They were standing there but couldn't do anything."

The family hasn't been able to bring themselves to tell the youngest what happened to their father, Wu said.

"The little kid knows that his dad is gone. All we said was that [his] dad worked really hard, and that's the only thing that we told him," said Wu.

He said while the family will have to tell him what happened eventually, they don't want the little boy to grow up with this trauma.

Mr. Yong's death has shaken an entire neighbourhood, left a family bereft, and brought to the fore the risks of running a convenience store. 11:17

The outpouring of support from the community has meant the world to the family, Wu said. 

"It shows that everyone loved him in the community," he said.

"We brought the little kid there to pass to see the flowers. Obviously he couldn't understand why the flowers were there, but I think when he's going to grow up, he will understand that everybody loved him, that those flowers were for his dad," said Wu.