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Man suspected of murder in Montreal used illegally obtained firearm

Written by Javed Iqbal

Quebec provincial police confirmed Friday that a man with mental illness suspected of killing three people at random used an illegally acquired firearm. Meanwhile, questions are being raised about why the man was released from a psychiatric ward.

Montreal police shot and killed Abdulla Shaikh, 26, in a motel parking lot early Thursday morning after he allegedly gunned down three men in Montreal and Laval, a suburb north of the city, within a span of about 24 hours. Two men, aged 64 and 48, were fatally shot about an hour apart on Tuesday evening, before a third man, a 22-year-old, was killed on Wednesday evening.

Police suspect the killings were committed by the same suspect, apparently at random.

“Regarding the gun that was acquired by this person, the investigation is still ongoing as to where he could have been able to obtain the gun,” said Benoit Richard, a spokesman for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), to CTV News.

“Right now we know he didn’t have a permit for a firearm.”

SAGITTARIUS IS CONSIDERED A ‘SIGNIFICANT’ RISK

As police investigations continue into the multiple killings, a decision by Quebec’s mental health review board raises concerns about the health system’s ability to properly monitor people with mental health issues who are released back into society.

In March, a ruling by the mental health board – Commission d’examen des troubles mentaux – said Shaikh could continue to live outside a mental health hospital even though his psychiatrist found him to be “a significant risk to public safety ” because of his mental health state. The mental health board accepted testimony from his psychiatrist that he had made some improvements in the months leading up to the hearing last spring.

The doctor recommended – and the board agreed – that he be allowed to remain a free man as long as he complied with certain conditions set by the hospital, including following the recommendations of his treatment team. He made the recommendation despite flagging some concerns with his patient’s behavior, including “denial and downplaying of conduct disorder, violence and psychiatric pathology” as well as “the heavy history of criminal charges of various kinds remain dismissed, which downplays the future risks. to act out.”

When reached Friday afternoon, the psychiatrist declined to comment.

Shaikh was found not criminally responsible in July 2018 after being charged with mischief following a series of incidents at Montreal-area airports. In one incident, he set fire to his passport with a candle near the entrance to Montreal Trudeau airport.

CTV confirmed that the shooter had been released under conditions in 2021 from the Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé in Laval.

On Friday, CISSS de Laval, the regional health agency that oversees the hospital, released a statement to CTV saying it was aware of the killings this week but could not answer specific questions — including whether Shaikh’s release conditions were followed – due to patient confidentiality.

The statement said it is the regional health board’s responsibility to ensure “adherence” to the treatment and care orders patients must follow when they are released into the community.

“In the event that CISSS de Laval is informed that a user does not comply with the conditions or is deemed not to comply with the conditions issued by [Tribunal administratif du Québec] and Superior Court, public safety will be called upon to enforce these conditions,” the statement read.

“CISSS de Laval wishes to offer its sympathies to the families of the victims.”

HOSPITALS OVERBURDENED: PSYCHIATRS

A Montreal psychiatrist not involved in Shaikh’s case suggested the bar is sometimes too low when deciding whether someone considered a public safety risk because of their mental state can be released.

“They have to reach the lowest state that will still ensure that society is not at risk. They are looking for [fewest] possible conditions,” said Dr. Gilles Chamberland.

“But the problem is that it is the hospital that has to take care of those conditions. Hospitals are there to treat patients, not to follow people who may become dangerous again.”

Dr. Chamberlain, who works at Montreal’s Philippe-Pinel psychiatric hospital, also pointed to a lack of resources for people when they leave a mental health facility on parole. In some cases, he said, dispensaries turn people away because they are too dangerous.

“We have a patient in Philippe-Pinel and every resource is rejecting the patient. We have a court order to release him, but we don’t know where because he has refused everywhere,” he said.

Lawyer François Legault, who represented Shaikh in March at his annual parole review, questioned whether police acted too quickly given his sensitive mental state.

“It was important to protect the community. I totally agree with that, but why is it so important not to take maybe more steps before going in? Knowing that he might have a weapon in his possession, and also knowing that he had major mental health issues,” he asked.

“Why didn’t you ask social workers or maybe a psychologist to come with the police team and try to start a discussion with him?”

He noted that even if someone is “the worst [kind of] criminals,” they have a right to dignity.

“Even if this person killed three other people, that doesn’t mean he deserves it,” he said. “You have the right to be arrested… That’s it [up to the] legal system to deal with it. We don’t kill people just because they kill others.”

Legault added that he had not seen Shaikh since March.

“We are all saddened by what happened to the three victims,” ​​he said. “As far as I’m concerned, nothing on March 29 led us to believe that something like this could happen.”

‘Rest in peace my brother’

Families of the many homicide victims are also trying to understand what happened.

Roxanne Crevier, the sister of the third victim – 22-year-old Alex Levis Crevier – said in a social media post that his death has been a “painful nightmare” and that she is unable to walk past the scene where he was killed.

An imposing memorial on Clermont Boulevard in Laval where 22-year-old Alex Creview was fatally shot on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. (Billy Shields/CTV News)

Crevier was shot about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on Clermont Boulevard and was pronounced dead at the scene. A skateboard was found near his body.

On Thursday night, his sister posted a photo on Facebook of a makeshift memorial at the crime scene.

“All I have are those memories now… seeing you happy to be with us, to be with your nephews,” she captioned the photo.

“I miss you already.”

The other victims were André Lemieux, the 64-year-old father of professional boxer David Lemieux. He was fatally shot around 21:45 near the corner of Jules-Poitras and Deguire boulevards in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent district.

About 65 minutes later, 48-year-old Mohamed Salah Belhaj was shot at around 10:50 p.m. at the intersection of Sauvé Ouest and Meilleur streets in the city’s Ahuntsic-Cartierville neighborhood.

The case has been turned over to Quebec’s provincial police, the SQ, who said they believe the shooter acted alone and appears to have chosen his victims at random.

With files from CTV Montreal’s Daniel J. Rowe and Ian Wood

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Javed Iqbal

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