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Canada 'An awful day for the neighbourhood': Montreal North on edge after shootings

13:00  26 october  2019
13:00  26 october  2019 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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a man standing on a busy street:  Montreal police stand outside one of the scenes of Thursday’s shootings, at Matte Ave. and Pierre St. in Montreal North. © Pierre Obendrauf Montreal police stand outside one of the scenes of Thursday’s shootings, at Matte Ave. and Pierre St. in Montreal North.

He stood outside his parents’ Montreal North apartment late Thursday when the shots erupted: four in quick succession, followed by a fifth, according to witnesses.

One moment, Abdu — as his friends called him — was just another 23-year-old who would help his neighbours carry their groceries and smoke the occasional joint in the park on hot summer nights. The next, his body was mangled by gunfire.

Police found him bleeding to death in an alley near the Lapierre Ave. apartment around 9:45 p.m. He died before paramedics could cart him away.

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The discovery of the body, the 16th homicide victim this year on the island of Montreal, was made minutes after a series of 911 calls were received by police concerning gunshots at the corner of Pierre St. and Matte Ave., just two blocks from where the body was found.

Officers arriving at the scene found three men age 17, 26 and 42 sprawled on the ground in front of a dépanneur with gunshot wounds to their lower body. Police say at least one attacker approached them on foot and opened fire in the store’s parking lot.

All three men were conscious when taken to a hospital and were being questioned by investigators Friday.

“We believe both attacks are connected,” said Jean-Pierre Brabant, a spokesperson for the Montreal police. “We’re still trying to figure out how it happened, what caused it, whether it’s gang related. Everything is on the table right now.”

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Police say all four victims are known to them.

a man standing on a busy street:  Montreal police stand outside one of the scenes of Thursday’s shootings, at Matte Ave. and Pierre St. in Montreal North. © Pierre Obendrauf Montreal police stand outside one of the scenes of Thursday’s shootings, at Matte Ave. and Pierre St. in Montreal North.

The 23-year-old victim lived with his parents in a three-storey apartment complex across from the neighbourhood barbershop. One neighbour said he was a bright student and smiled at him whenever they crossed paths.

“He sold a bit of weed here and there, but he wasn’t a bad guy,” said one friend, who went to high school with the victim. “He used to give me free buds every now and then. He was a sweet guy, certainly not a gangster.”

Another neighbour said Abdu was part of a small group of friends he hung around with.

“He was the kind of guy who’ll always be there when you need help,” said the neighbour, who did not want his name published. “It’s just awful, an awful day for the neighbourhood.”

Crime scene technicians sorted through the leaves outside the Lapierre Ave. building, looking for shell casings, footprints or any piece of evidence that might lead to a suspect. Earlier Friday, police dogs sniffed in the laneways and parking lots in the area.

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After establishing a large crime-scene perimeter Thursday night, police collected footage from surveillance cameras to get a better indication of how the shootings unfolded.

Investigators had not identified any suspects as of Friday evening.

Speculation was rampant within the crowd outside the barbershop Friday afternoon: Was it a settling of accounts? A turf dispute between the rival Red — or Bloods — and Blues street gangs?

Another friend of the victim walked from one crime scene to the other, slipping through holes in the fences meant to separate the box-shaped apartments north of Maurice-Duplessis Blvd. He wanted to get a sense of why his neighbourhood was upended by violence just hours earlier.

The young man took a drag on his cigarette and pointed to a piece of graffiti that reads “Blood.”

“This is Red territory; maybe it was some Blues trying to stir things up,” he said, walking past a brown sedan with flat tires and a freshly smashed windshield.

Around the corner, friends of Abdu exchanged hugs. Some fought back tears.

Police deployed at the station serving the borough were going door to door canvassing for information, but also to reassure those shaken by the events of the previous evening.

“A visibility plan has been carried out and … there will be an increased police presence in the area,” said police spokesperson Véronique Comtois.

Some sense of normalcy began to resume Friday afternoon: parents picked up their children from school, customers sat in the barber chair and one woman fixed Halloween decorations to the balcony of her third-floor apartment.

“We’re doing everything we can to reassure people,” said Brabant.

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