Gunman in Montreal-area murder spree released from institution despite ‘significant risk’

The gunman at the center of a seemingly random killing spree that claimed the lives of three people in Montreal and Laval over a 24-hour period has been allowed to continue living outside a mental health facility, despite being deemed by a psychiatrist to be a “significant risk”. to public safety “because of his state of mind last spring.

The shooter, 26-year-old Abdulla Shaikh, was shot and killed by Montreal police Thursday morning in a motel parking lot during an operation related to the three slayings. Investigators believe they were made randomly by the young man.

Court records show that Shaikh had a criminal record for charges including assault and mischief.

But a decision by the Quebec Administrative Court raises questions about why he was allowed to continue living outside the direct supervision of mental health professionals even though he was seen as a danger to others.

The man’s psychiatrist testified at a March 2022 hearing that Shaikh’s mental state had improved in the previous six months, but there were “lingering concerns”. Those concerns included “the denial and trivialization of behavioral disorders, violence and psychiatric pathology”, as well as “the heavy history of accusations of criminal acts of various kinds continues to be denied, which trivializes the future risks of acting” .

“The Commission accepts from the evidence that [the accused] he still represents, due to his mental state, a significant risk to public safety,” the March 29 decision stated.

A summary of his case showed that Shaikh was released from a mental health institution on January 25, 2021 and ordered to comply with several conditions after being found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for a crime in 2018. .

During his annual review of his release, the psychiatrist expressed concern about Shaikh’s mental state and the risk to public safety, citing his patient’s “unpredictability of aggressive behaviors” and lack of access to family members. by the treatment team. However, the doctor recommended that he stay out of the mental health facility under several conditions, including living in a place approved by the hospital director, complying with the recommendations of his treatment team, avoiding drugs, keeping the peace, and urine tests.

The summary says the man appeared near the entrance of Montreal Trudeau Airport and set fire to his passport with a candle in July 2018. He also visited the airport twice more and was told to leave before being arrested after trying to breaking into a secure area of ​​the Mirabel airport.

SUSPECT KILLED BY POLICE

Shaikh was armed when he was shot dead by police officers at the Pierre Motel in the Saint-Laurent district of Montreal around 7 am Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Audrey-Anne Bilodeau, a spokeswoman for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), says police are still working to determine the motive for the killings.

She notes that there is nothing to suggest that the suspect, who suffered from “mental health issues,” knew the three victims.

Officers do not believe he had accomplices.

As the shooting involves police officers, the Quebec Independent Bureau of Investigations (BEI) has taken up the case.

‘I CAN NOT BELIEVE IT’

Acting Montreal Police Chief Sophie Roy added that the force worked “day and night” to find the suspect after the first shooting Tuesday night.

“We will continue to work hard to combat armed violence,” he said, offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

However, those who live in the area say the incident has made them think twice about how safe their neighborhood really is.

“I saw police coming out the back of our building and I didn’t know what was going on,” said Beverley Nadeau, who lives nearby. “I can’t believe it, in our area, in our house. Now I’m a little worried about going out.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante took to Twitter to thank the various police forces involved in the Thursday morning operation.

“It is during these moments that we must all work together and trust our authorities in a common goal of guaranteeing the safety of our population,” he wrote. “I would like to offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.”

The EIB is asking anyone who witnessed the event to contact investigators online.

THREE DEADLY SHOTS

The police intervention comes after three recent murders in Montreal and Laval.

The first incident occurred at 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday in the Saint-Laurent neighborhood.

Police were called to the intersection of Jules-Poitras and Deguire boulevards near Roman-Zytynsky Park.

“Once on scene, police found the victim shot and wounded to the upper body,” said Gabriella Youakim, a Montreal police spokeswoman. “The victim died at the scene.”

The man was later confirmed to be André Lemieux, the father of professional boxer David Lemieux.

Shortly after, at 10:50 pm, officers were called to a shooting in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville district.

When the police arrived at the intersection of Sauvé Ouest and Meilleur streets, near the Saint-Benoît park, they found a 48-year-old man lying on the ground.

“His death was confirmed at the scene,” Youakim stated. “No arrests have been made as of yet.”

That victim has been identified as Mohamed Salah Belhaj, an intervention worker at the Albert-Prévost Mental Health Hospital.

Then, on Wednesday at 9:30 pm, the Laval police (SPL) were called for a shooting on Clermont Boulevard.

The victim, a 22-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Laval police spokeswoman Stéphanie Beshara. His body was found next to a skateboard at the crime scene.

Police have not revealed his identity.


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