Friday, June 21, 2024

‘Personal conflict’: Montreal alley fight kills three, including 15-year-old

First Published:

Montreal police said Wednesday that a “personal conflict” was at the heart of a massive brawl that ended in the stabbing death of three young people, including a 15-year-old boy.

Cmdr. Jean-Sébastien Caron, head of the major crimes unit, said the fight was a “chance event” involving 15 or 16 people, and unrelated to organized crime.

“It’s not a gang conflict, it’s not a territorial conflict,” he told reporters. “It’s more a personal conflict that degenerated, and, unfortunately, led to the death of three people.”

The deaths are the city’s 14th, 15th and 16th homicides of 2024. They come after a deadly month in Montreal, which has seen seven homicides in the last 10 days.

Police were called at around 7 p.m. Tuesday to an alley in the city’s Plateau-Mont-Royal district where officers found three people who had been injured by a sharp object. The male victims, ages 15, 23 and 25, were taken to hospital in critical condition, and Wednesday morning police confirmed that all three had died.

Caron did not say whether the people involved had criminal records, but he said they knew each other. Police are searching for at least two suspects, but have not yet made any arrests, he added.

He said officers are also looking at surveillance footage and speaking to witnesses — many of whom he said aren’t cooperative.

The youngest victim is “extremely young” to die in a street fight, Caron said. “I honestly don’t remember when we had a victim younger than 15.”

Caron said that while all homicides are concerning, the recent deaths appear to be mostly isolated incidents — all but one involved knives rather than guns, pointing to unplanned events or “conflicts that degenerated,” rather than violence related to street gangs or organized crime, he said.

Gun crime has been lower than usual, and police have been successful in tracking down and arresting the people responsible for many of the recent deaths, he added.

Caron said that with between 25 and 35 murders a year, Montreal compares favourably to many big North American cities when it comes to violent crime.

“Montreal is an extremely safe city in terms of the homicide rate,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2024.

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