Montreal police Taser man suspected of vandalizing Islamic community centre
Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:46AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:03PM EDT
Montreal police say they have caught a man suspected of repeatedly defacing an Islamic community centre in Rosemont.
The centre has been targeted four other times in the past six weeks, with the most recent incident occurring late Friday night into Saturday.
Police were staking out the centre on Belanger St. near 23rd Ave. when, around 1:45 a.m., the man showed up, they say.
The man tried to throw a bottle with some liquid inside at the building. Police could not confirm whether it was a Molotov cocktail.
When officers tried to approach the 47-year-old suspect, he allegedly pulled out a sabre and began threatening violence on police, the public and himself.
“He was really aggressive. He was threatening police officers; there were a lot of specialized police officers in crisis intervention talking with him for 15 to 20 minutes trying to negotiate with the man,” said Montreal police spokesperson Danny Richer.
The man wouldn’t stop shouting hateful messages, police said.
At that point, an officer used a Taser gun to neutralize him. He was transported to hospital and was not injured.
“He had the sword in his hand but also had his vehicle nearby and the investigators made a search inside his vehicle and other evidence were found in the vehicle. They will be shown to the court,” said Richer.
Police confirmed that evidence included other weapons.
Investigators met with the suspect Tuesday, as he spent the day in hospital for assessment. Charges will be laid against him in the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday.
The suspect is described as a white Quebecer. Police say the suspect is believed to have ties to an extremist group.
A janitor in the building for 35 years, Pat Lamarche said he's getting nervous about the attacks.
“Broken windows don't bother me, but when I heard talk of Molotov cocktails -- maybe they'll light it on fire one day. That makes me mad,” he said.
Salam Elmenyawi of the Muslim Council of Montrealsaid he believes anti-Islamic groups have gained traction in Quebec recently.
“Anumber of Facebook pages are talking in a very bad way about Islam. We thought this was just rhetoric, just talk, but now, this kind of talk has been taken into an action,” he said, adding that it is unacceptable for his community to be intimidated with attacks and threats.
Neighbours of the mosque seem to agree, including Ercan Sipahi, who owns the apartment building next door.
“I hope that's not happening again, because the neighbourhood is really nice here. People are nice. I know the people going in there. They are really polite people,” he said.
Police say they will maintain a presence in the area for the coming weeks.