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'Targeted again': Montreal police investigate after gunshot fired at Jewish school

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Police are investigating after another building in Montreal's Jewish community was struck by gunfire.

Montreal police (SPVM) said they received a 911 call Wednesday afternoon and responded to the Belz school on Hillsdale Road, near Van Horne Avenue, in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough. 

Police spokesperson Veronique Dubuc said officers found at least one bullet hole on the front of the building. It's not clear if the shooting happened earlier on Wednesday or another day, she said.

Police say their investigation is ongoing.

The Montreal police said the hate crimes unit is helping with the investigation. It has not been declared it a hate crime at this point, but police said that could change.

For school spokesperson Mayer Feig, the "hate crime" classification means nothing.

"I know it's a hate crime," he said. "I know why it was done, and, again, this is another problem every time. We have to define it. I don't need classification from anybody to tell me what this is."

'We do not live in peaceful times'

David Stein lives across the street from the school. His children attended the Jewish School Yeshiva Gedola on Deacon Street that was shot at in November. It was the second school targeted that week. A 20-year-old man was arrested in connection with that shooting.

"It's always been a fear of the neighbours," he said. "We do not live in peaceful times."

Stein said it brings back memories of what his parents experienced in Europe.

"My father was in Germany. His parents house was completely shot up during Kristallnacht," he said. "I'm glad my parents aren't around anymore to see what's going on because it's very hurtful, and it's a tough time for the Jewish community in Montreal, the Jewish community throughout the world. We hope for better times."

Feig said the intent behind the act is obvious.

"It's clear that there are some people here who want to create fear and panic in the community and it's concerning to us," he said.

Trudeau, Plante denounce violent acts

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the act and promised that law enforcement was working to ensure those responsible would be caught.

"I was of course relieved that no one was hurt, but I'm disgusted by these vile and despicable acts of antisemitism. It needs to stop now," he said Thursday in Toronto.

"To Jewish parents and students across the country, we stand with you. We will always work to safeguard your right to live proudly Jewish lives in Canada."

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante also swiftly condemned the shooting on social media. 

"It is totally unacceptable that a Jewish school should once again be targeted. Anti-Semitism has no place in Montreal. The SPVM is on the scene to investigate and I am confident that they will once again find the culprit," Plante wrote on X. 

"Schools should never be targets of violence," wrote Elisabeth Prass, the Quebec Liberal MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, adding that antisemitism "is unacceptable in Quebec and our society."

A joint statement on Wednesday from Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Quebec denounced the shooting at the school. The two groups said "when decisive action is taken by those who govern us, these monstrous and barbaric acts come to an end. This is not the Montreal we want to live in!"

Last week, a 20-year-old man was charged in relation to a shooting at a Jewish school last fall. That school, Yeshiva Gedola, and another one, United Talmud Torahs of Montreal, were hit by gunfire last November.
 



- With files from The Canadian Press

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