Don't walk alone at night, Montreal principal tells students after fatal shooting of 16-year-old boy
MONTREAL -- Days after a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood, the victim’s principal is telling her students to avoid the nearby park and to not walk alone at night.
The disturbing warning on Thursday came after police stepped up their presence at Joseph François Perrault high school.
Police have not made any arrests in the death of Thomas Trudel, who was killed by a gunshot wound to his upper body last Sunday night. His death has sent shockwaves throughout the city as yet another 16-year-old’s life was taken by violent crime.
“It's good to question safety because there are no patrols and I think it would be good to be able to walk the streets at night without being scared of being killed,'' one student told CTV News Thursday.
“It's sad they waited for Thomas’ death before putting in police presence because before this there were plenty of other incidents and gunshots,” said a female student.
In a letter to parents, the school's principal also warned students to avoid the park at night.
However, some students say the problem extends beyond Saint-Michel and that more needs to be done about gun violence in the city.
“We really need to take a look at gun control, especially when it comes to young people,” she said.
“We see what is happening in the U.S. and we don't want it to be the same.”
Laying flowers Thursday afternoon at the site where the Trudel was killed, Premier François Legault joined the growing number of politicians to pay tribute to the teen.
Later Thursday night, Legault told reporters at an announcement about hockey at the Bell Centre that now is the time to repeat efforts of former public safety minister Serge Menard to “clean up the street gangs” as was done in previous years.
Montreal police have not linked Trudel’s death to gang violence or revealed a motive in the killing.
“We're there now, we have to stop it. It's terrible to see a little 16-year-old guy get shot,” Legault said.
“It's one thing to fight in the schoolyard, but to be shot in Montreal? You can't accept that.”
'WE'RE ALL THINKING ABOUT HOW WE CAN DO EVEN MORE': TRUDEAU
Banning handguns is a federal responsibility, he said, adding that Quebec is ready to join them in the fight against gun crime. He also promised there would be an announcement on gun crime in the provincial government’s economic update on Nov. 25. “Watch for that; it's going to be a priority,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the issue of gun trafficking across the U.S. border at a news conference in Washington Thursday evening.
He said the government has worked for several years on the issue of guns being smuggled into Canada and that work will continue.
"Obviously, these recent tragedies that we experienced in my riding in Montreal with Mr. Trudel who died — we’re all thinking about how we can do even more. And this is why we’ll continue to work with the Government of Quebec and the municipalities that want to control guns," Trudeau said.
Mayor Valerie Plante has also called on the federal government to do more to fight gun crime and Mohamed Noredine Mimoun, a youth worker, agrees.
“This has gone on for months and there's no solution,” said Mimoun, a co-ordinator with Forum Jeunesse de St-Michel.
“The city looks to the federal government, they look to the provincial — it’s become a game, meanwhile, the community suffers.”
Mimoun has organized a march to raise awareness on the increased gun violence and why it's happening.
“We have to work with the youth to understand why they need guns. Is it fear? Are they too easy to get? Is it a culture of glorification? And then where do the guns come from?” he said.
The memorial march in support of Trudel's family and classmates will be held Saturday at noon in Parc François-Perrault.
With files from The Canadian Press