'You're not safe anymore': Laval students, parents shaken after shooting near CEGEP

Jean-Michel Duquette, a student at Collège Montmorency, says he came across one of the victims of Friday's shooting bleeding in his school. He says the incident has left students feeling unsafe. (François Sauvé/CBC - image credit)
Jean-Michel Duquette, a student at Collège Montmorency, says he came across one of the victims of Friday's shooting bleeding in his school. He says the incident has left students feeling unsafe. (François Sauvé/CBC - image credit)

Jean-Michel Duquette, a third-year psychology student at Collège Montmorency in Laval, Que., says he was standing near the front door of his school on Friday when all of a sudden, he saw people running.

"I was like 'Oh my God, what's happening?'" he said.

Duquette was one of hundreds of students on campus when a shooting occurred at a park near the school in the Chomedey district, leaving three people in hospital with non-life threatening gunshot wounds and a fourth with injuries believed to be from broken glass.

After the victims sought refuge inside the school, the campus was locked down, confining hundreds of staff and students.

"I started running with my friend, just trying to see what's going on … because we're in the school and somebody is like bleeding so we're trying to help him," Duquette recounts.

Those inside the school were slowly evacuated from the building beginning shortly after 10 p.m. — more than four hours after the lockdown went into effect.

While police say there was no danger to those confined to the campus, Duquette says the incident left students feeling unsafe.

"If they can do this type of stuff in a school, it's getting dangerous. Like you're not safe anymore.The city's got to do something," he said.

Kolya Hubacek-Guilbault/Radio-Canada
Kolya Hubacek-Guilbault/Radio-Canada

Police said no shots were fired on campus and they could not say if the victims are students of the school.

Still, that doesn't do much to put Jean-Jacques Nduita's mind at ease.

"When I hear something of the kind, I'm worried as a parent," said Nduita, whose daughter comes to the school every Saturday for swimming class.

He says he wants the city to crack down on the use of firearms to secure the neighbourhood.

Shooting linked to street gang, police chief says

Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer and local police chief Pierre Brochet held a news conference Saturday morning to provide an update on the Friday incident.

Brochet says police are still looking for the suspect or suspects in the shooting and are asking for the public's help.

He confirmed one victim between the ages of 19 and 20 is involved with a local street gang known as the Flamehead Boys, but did not provide further details.

"It's important to clarify, the event has no connection with the CEGEP," he said, adding it also has no connection to another school lockdown that occurred earlier Friday at another CEGEP in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC News
Kwabena Oduro/CBC News

Brochet says the city has seen shootings drop by half this year compared to last year thanks to a police project launched last spring, "but what we see now with the events that happened yesterday, we still have some work to do."

In reference to gang violence in the city, Brochet says officers will continue cracking down.

"As long as these actions, which have no regard for human life, do not stop, we will not let go and we will be on their backs," he said.

Mayor calls for more support for Laval

At the same news conference Saturday, Mayor Boyer told reporters he's spoken with Quebec's Public Security Minister François Bonnardel to ask for more funding to help fight gun violence in the city.

"The fact that we've been seeing a lot and a lot more events in the last few years involving younger people, more [firearms], even though we are investing a lot of money … I was asking for some financial support from the provincial government, just like Montreal received," said Stéphane Boyer, referring to the $250 million earmarked for Montreal over the summer.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC News
Kwabena Oduro/CBC News

Boyer says the city has already added $1.2 million to the police budget this year to allow for more investigators to look into street gangs and weapons offences, but he says the city must have the means to invest more in community outreach to tackle the problem at its roots.

"Beyond the police, we must give our young people ways to get involved, to develop their sense of belonging, of pride. We must give them other opportunities than going to organized crime," he said.

Both Boyer and Brochet say that despite what happened Friday, the city is safe and they are working hard to curb the violence.

"I want to reassure people we are doing everything we can do to deal with the street gangs," said Boyer.

Brochet says he wants to send the message that the area is "very safe around the college."