A 26-year-old man who was the suspect in a series of apparently random homicides was shot and killed during an intervention by Montreal police early Thursday.
Manuel Couture, a Montreal police spokesman, says the suspect was shot during a police operation at a motel on Marcel-Laurin Boulevard in the St-Laurent borough. He has been identified as Abdulla Shaikh by Quebec provincial police.
The operation took place after two men were killed in separate shootings Tuesday evening in Montreal. A third victim was killed in Laval, just north of Montreal, late Wednesday night.
Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) has launched an investigation into Shaikh’s death. The bureau investigates whenever a civilian is injured or killed during a police intervention.
In a statement, the BEI said the suspect was allegedly in possession of a firearm when he was confronted by police officers at the motel. The Montreal police department’s tactical unit was on site around 7 a.m. for a search linked to the investigation into the three homicides.
Shots were fired and Shaikh was hit by at least one bullet, according to the bureau.
“The 26-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene,” the BEI said.
The investigation is ongoing and the bureau is asking anyone who may have information to contact them. Seven investigators have been assigned to the case.
Quebec provincial police take over investigation
Quebec provincial police said in a statement they will be taking over the investigation into the three homicides at the request of the BEI.
Provincial police spokeswoman Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau told reporters it appears the man suspected of shooting dead three people in the Montreal area earlier this week chose his victims at random and had mental health issues. Investigators believe Shaikh acted alone and didn’t have links to organized crime, she added.
Speaking at the scene Thursday, Bilodeau said he had previously been visited by Montreal police for mental health-related interventions.
“We’re trying to establish the motivations of this man,” Bilodeau said, adding that it isn’t clear if he intended to kill again.
One of the Montreal victims on Tuesday evening was identified in local media reports as André Fernand Lemieux, 64, the father of Canadian professional boxer David Lemieux. The other victim was Mohamed Salah Belhaj, 48, an intervention officer at a local mental health hospital.
A senior Montreal police spokesman said Wednesday that investigators were certain a single suspect was behind both killings and police were waiting on ballistics evidence to confirm it.
At about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, a third man was killed in Laval, just north of Montreal. Laval police haven’t ruled out that the homicide on their territory was also a random attack.
Montreal police interim chief Sophie Roy briefly addressed reporters after the operation Thursday, though she didn’t take any question due to the independent investigation by the BEI. She offered her condolences to the families of the victims and said police worked “day and night to resolve the crimes.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante thanked all police departments involved for their work, saying “the last 48 hours have been trying for everyone.”
“It is during these moments that we must all work together and trust our authorities in a common goal of ensuring the safety of our population,” she wrote on Twitter in the morning.
“Once again, I would like to offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims. The investigation is ongoing in order to understand this tragic series of events.”
— with files from Global News’ Felicia Parrillo and the Canadian Press
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