Fifteen-year-old girl murdered in Montreal drive-by shooting, suspects sought

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MONTREAL — Residents of Montreal's northeastern St-Leonard neighbourhood expressed sadness and shock on Monday at news a 15-year-old girl had been shot to death in the area the night before.

Half a dozen police cars could be seen around a blocked-off parking lot and a small stretch of road on a residential street just south of Jean-Talon Street, as technicians worked to analyze the scene. A block away, a police car idled in front of a two-storey brick home cordoned off with orange tape, within view of a busy elementary school playground.

“We were sorry to hear about the loss of a young girl, perhaps a student, with her future before her,” neighbour Ali Hellal said. He said he has lived in the area for more than 10 years and this was the first time he’d heard of a violent crime nearby.

“It’s quiet here, always,” he said.

Police said the girl was inside a stopped car Sunday night with another person, and they were talking to people outside when shots were fired from a second vehicle that had pulled up. The girl and a 21-year-old man who was on the sidewalk were hit by bullets, and Montreal police confirmed Monday that the girl had died from her injuries.

The man, who was hit in the upper body, managed to take shelter a block away, and police said he was conscious and talking when he was taken to hospital.

Montreal police spokesman Raphael Bergeron said the vehicle from which the shots were fired drove off, and the two men inside were wearing masks, making it difficult for witnesses to provide a description.

Another neighbour, Danny Cimino, said the area has been very quiet lately, especially with COVID-19 restrictions in place. “I’m very shocked that a 15-year-old girl got shot right here when nothing ever happens,” he said.

Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said the shooting was "very sad," and offered condolences to the families of the victim. "It is unfortunately too early to comment on the reasons for this shooting, an investigation will shed light on the circumstances," she said in a statement Monday.

Guilbault said the Quebec government was aware of a "rise in violent events" in Montreal in recent weeks and said it had already invested in programs to help reduce gun violence.

Police technicians left the scene in the early afternoon, and as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, no suspects had been arrested, police said. The killing in St-Leonard is Montreal's fifth homicide of 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2021.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press