LAVAL, Que. — The Montreal-area city of Laval needs more financial support from the Quebec government to fight a rising tide of gun violence, the local mayor said Saturday as police continued searching for suspects in a shooting that sent four people to hospital.
Stéphane Boyer's comments came at a news conference held alongside Laval Police Chief Pierre Brochet, where the pair provided an update on the Friday afternoon shooting at a park near Collège Montmorency, a junior college referred to in the province as a Céjep.
Boyer said he spoke with provincial Public Security Minister François Bonnardel after the shooting about the rise in violent gun crimes involving younger people over the last several years.
"We are making progress," said Boyer. "But I was asking for some financial support from the provincial government just like Montreal received a few weeks ago."
Both the federal and provincial governments have allocated millions of dollars towards Montreal's efforts to combat gun violence, which has seen a spike in recent years. Boyer said he believes Laval requires comparable governmental assistance.
Representatives from Bonnardel's office did not immediately respond to questions about Boyer's request. Quebec Premier François Legault, however, took to Twitter after the shooting to say his government is in contact with law enforcement about the incident and he will work to fight gun violence.
Friday's shooting, which sent about 500 Collège Montmorency students and staff members into lockdown for at least six hours, left four people with non-life-threatening injuries. Brochet said three victims were shot, while the fourth was treated for a possible glass-related wound.
The police chief said one victim between the age of 19 and 20 is suspected to have had involvement with a local street gang known as the Flamehead Boys, which has been known to local authorities for many years.
Boyer said crime-prevention efforts should include tackling gang violence.
"First we have to work hard on the violent criminals, and the other way is we have to work with kids to avoid they join these gangs," said Boyer.
Friday's shooting was the latest in a string of violent incidents to rock Laval in recent weeks, including a recent case in which a father stands accused of killing his two children in their home.
"Of course, those are different situations," Boyer acknowledged. "But what we want to do in Laval is ensure we have the best police force, make sure the investigations go through and that we can arrest all of the people that are involved in crimes."
Brochet said the area surrounding the junior college is now secure and students can return to class. Police are still searching for suspects in the case, he added.
The shooting came the same day as a junior college in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal, was put into lockdown for several hours after a 19-year-old man wearing a bulletproof vest was spotted on campus.
Local police spokeswoman Barbara-Anne Dion said the accused, Simon-Olivier Frappier, has been charged with one count of uttering threats. He made a virtual court appearance on Saturday and will remain in custody until his next hearing, she added.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2022.
Caitlin Yardley, The Canadian Press