Montrealers shaken by gunshots outside daycare, mayor renews call for handgun ban

·3 min read
Vanessa Caruso lives near a former daycare that was hit by bullets this week in Montreal. Bullet holes can be seen in the front window panes, like the one in the door's glass. (CBC - image credit)
Vanessa Caruso lives near a former daycare that was hit by bullets this week in Montreal. Bullet holes can be seen in the front window panes, like the one in the door's glass. (CBC - image credit)

Montreal resident Vanessa Caruso was at home Tuesday afternoon when she thought she heard some fireworks going off just outside.

"Then I looked outside 15 minutes later and there were like four cop cars and they were blocking off the whole street," said Caruso, who lives in the east end neighbourhood of Rivière-des-Prairies.

It turns out it wasn't fireworks at all, but gunshots. No one was injured in the incident, but police soon found bullet holes in a former daycare facility just steps from Caruso's door.

Across the street is another daycare, and while staff there declined to speak with CBC News, neighbour Dalia Falso said it's worrisome that the shooting took place at a time when kids are usually being picked up.

"I always see kids over here walking with their teachers in groups and it's really scary," she said.

Caruso said her parents, who live with her, weren't phased by the shooting even though it happened just outside their home.

"We are used to it, so they don't really care. It's just me, because I have never really heard that many gunshots," she said.

"I was really scared but I guess it's a pretty normal occurrence around here."

Plante calls for handgun ban

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante renewed her call for Ottawa to ban handguns as she spoke at a news conference Wednesday where Montreal police announced the confiscation of 21 firearms.

Along with the guns, 6.5 million amphetamine pills, 500 kilograms of methamphetamine and some $300,000 in cash were seized during a raid on an alleged drug ring that spanned several cities, according to the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).

CBC
CBC

The bust was not related to the shooting in Rivière-des-Prairies, but Plante cited that shooting and several others while calling attention to this week's tragedy at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Plante said municipalities  and police are trying to curb gun violence, but can only do so much.

"The SPVM is doing what it can," said Plante. "But it is also necessary that the other levels of government take their responsibility."

Back in March, the mayor announced her plan to invest $2 million over the next two years in programs developed by and for youth as part of a newly launched $7-million effort to counter gun violence.

Then in April, the federal government said it would invest $5 million in several local violence prevention projects.

This comes after Quebec's December 2021 announcement to invest $52 million in combating gun violence. The funds were to be spread out over a few years to support six different initiatives meant to guide young people away from criminal activities.

CBC
CBC

That announcement came after Quebec earmarked $90 million to hire more than 100 police officers and experts across the province to fight gun-related crime in an initiative called Operation Centaur.

Justice minister says Ottawa is listening

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said his colleague, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, has had a number of discussions with Plante — and Ottawa is listening.

"We know that handguns are a problem. We've already invested a great deal of money in increased security at the border as well as anti-gang strategies," Lametti said.

The Liberals extended an amnesty on assault-style weapons to 2023.

That was to give them more time to set up a buy-back program. It's also to give gun owners time to comply with tougher rules.

Meanwhile, Plante is also calling on provincial parties leading up to the fall election to support the demands of Montreal to get weapons off the street.

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