Montreal police believe a 49-year-old man who was stabbed to death late Monday night in the city of Westmount was experiencing homelessness.
Police say the attack occurred at about 11:50 p.m., on Ste-Catherine Street, near the corner of Atwater Avenue.
The victim was stabbed at least once in the upper body and was taken to hospital in critical condition, where he later died of his injuries.
His death marks the 29th homicide in the city this year.
Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) spokesperson Jeanne Drouin says investigators believe the victim was experiencing homelessness, as he was found near an encampment in an alleyway. The site of the attack is also close to Resilience Montreal, a day shelter located across the street from Cabot Square.
Montreal police say the stabbing occurred at about 11:50 p.m., on Ste-Catherine Street, near the corner of Atwater Avenue. (Alain Béland/Radio-Canada)
This would mark the third stabbing death within the last three months among people experiencing homelessness on the island of Montreal, according to reports.
Earlier this month, a 47-year-old unhoused man was fatally stabbed near Place-des-Arts Metro station. According to La Presse, a 42-year-old man who was found stabbed to death in a park in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough in July was also homeless.
Increase in violence
Marie-Pier Therrien, communications director for the Old Brewery Mission shelter, says she's noticed an increase in violent incidents in the homeless community and other vulnerable populations that occupy public spaces.
"We do feel like its related to the […] opioid crisis that we've been seeing," she said. "We know that the quality of drugs has been decreasing and it's creating a bit more violence and aggressive behaviours from the individuals."
She says the violence can be linked to various factors, such as a drug deal gone wrong or an episode of psychosis.
"We've seen that in other cases," she said.
Marie-Pier Therrien, communications director for the Old Brewery Mission shelter, attributes the increase in violence to an increase in drugs and lack of mental health resources. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC)
Therrien says the police have a role to play in curbing the violence. "They're supposed to protect all the citizens, including the homeless population."
She says this year, it appears as though the SPVM is taking these killings of homeless people more seriously.
"To see the public effort and people out there asking questions to the population in the neighbourhood, that's more than [what] we would have seen in he past few years," she said.
No arrests have been reported as of Tuesday morning and police have no suspects in Monday night's attack.
Police say it's too soon to say if the victim might have been attacked by another person experiencing homelessness.
"What I can tell you is that there [are] key witnesses that are [being] met or that have been met this morning by the investigators from the major crimes unit that might lead to some more explanation regarding this event," said Drouin.
A command post has been set up near the site of the attack.
Lionel Carmant, Quebec's social services minister, says the provincial government is providing funding for shelters to be open 24/7.
"That's why we're also increasing patrols to make sure that if there's a crisis, there's a mental health professional to help. And also, we need the help of all the cities and the police forces to help us with security in our streets," Carmant told reporters at the National Assembly.