Domestic dispute in Valleyfield ends in woman's death and an officer shot
Published Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:20AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:32PM EDT
A 65-year-old woman was killed and a Sureté du Quebec officer was injured after a gunman opened fire in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield Tuesday night.
The victim, Johanne Chayer, was declared dead in hospital. Her spouse is under arrest.
Police officers received a call at 9:30 p.m. about a domestic dispute in a home on du Sentier St. in the Grande-Ile neighbourhood.
“As soon as they arrived on the scene, there was an exchange of gunfire, and one of our officers was hit by gunfire,” said SQ spokesperson Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau.
“We heard the first gunshots, about five or six in the moment. Twenty minutes later, we got full staff here with policemen and we heard a second series of gunshots: about 20 or 25. It was pretty heavy,” said witness Francois Prevost.
The officer was shot in the torso and taken to hospital with serious injuries but is in stable condition, Thibaudeau said.
“Thankfully he didn’t lose his life. He was rather lucky in the circumstances,” he said.
The shooting forced police to fall back into a standoff with the shooter, until a SWAT team forced their way into the home at 2 a.m. They found Chayer unconscious inside.
She was taken to hospital where she was declared dead at 3 a.m.
Police arrested her partner Alain Castonguay, the 72-year-old homeowner, at the scene. He suffered very minor injuries and was briefly taken to hospital. They would not confirm or deny the suspect is known to police. They also would not say if anyone else was inside the home at the time of the incident.
Thibaudeau said the suspect is being questioned and could face charges that include murder, attempted murder and firearm-related offences. He will appear in the Valleyfield courthouse Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re treating this case as conjugal violence that turned into homicide and an attempted homicide on the life of our police officer,” he said, adding that the investigation is ongoing. “There are some details that we won’t be able to go into at this time. Later, if we’re allowed to go into that and it won’t compromise the investigation, I’ll be able to tell you more.”
“As far as charges, we can expect charges of homicide, attempted homicide and possibly firearms related charges but the Crown will have to look into that and decide at a later time what charges will apply,” he added.
Castonguay is due in court Thursday to be charged with murder and attempted murder.
The couple had only moved into the neighbourhood a few months ago. The victim and the accused had actually divorced in 1994, but it appears they reconciled, because they lived in the home together.
Police say all necessary help is being provided to those close to the injured officer.
“There is support being offered to the family of the officer who was injured, as well as to the colleagues from the Valleyfield station here who were a bit shaken up on the scene,” said Thibaudeau.
Thibaudeau said conjugal violence calls can be volatile.
“Conjugal violence calls are really difficult to deal with in terms of the dangerousness. They’re unpredictable. And even the best prepared plans are set on arrival, there’s always the imponderable factor that happens. None of our SQ officers want to see this situation ever occur and it’s difficult,” he said. “So we’re there with this officer to help him out. He has a long road ahead of him. He has a long path to get back to health. His family and his colleagues will be there to help him in this difficult situation.”