'We are taking the situation very seriously': Montreal mayor addresses recent shootings
MONTREAL -- After two consecutive nights of incidents involving firearms – one of which left a police officer with a gunshot wound – Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says she is increasing police surveillance in some areas of the city.
“The events of recent days involving firearms are worrying,” Plante said in a statement on Monday. “But I want to reassure Montrealers: we are taking the situation very seriously and are implementing a whole series of actions to stem the problem of violent crime.”
Early Sunday morning, Montreal police (SPVM) officers responded to a noise complaint in the Old Port and were then shot at by a 33-year-old man. After shooting back and forth, five people were wounded and taken to hospital, including one of the officers.
"A greater police presence is ensured in Old Montreal as part of the implementation of a visibility plan," Plante said. "At times deemed more critical – especially when bars close – police will be present continuously, by car and bicycle, near targeted locations."
Plante was also referring to an event that took place late Sunday night, when an apartment building in the city’s Rivieres-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles area was shot at.
"In the Pointe-aux-Trembles district, increased police surveillance has also been put in place and door-to-door operations are carried out," she said.
"We cannot accept that acts likely to seriously injure or even kill citizens occur on the territory of Montreal. We will do everything to ensure the safety and well-being of the entire population and quickly resolve these cases."
Talking to media later in the day, Plante said police were also working "behind the scenes" to determine why the shootings happened. She said while Montreal remains "a safe city," a heavier police presence is required in some neighbourhoods to keep it that way.
In recent months, as the Defund the Police movement has gained steam in the United States, Plante has said she is open to a conversation on changing how Montreal's police are funded. But she said the Old Port shooting was an example of police responding appropriately to a situation.
She called on the federal government to do more to reduce the presence of firearms in Montreal and other cities across Canada.
"There has to be more measures against owning any types of guns if you shouldn't have one," she said. "That's something that's not in my hands, but we neeed to put more pressure on the government of Canada. I don't think it should be a city-by-city rule. Ultimately, I feel like it's something for the entire society. We don't want people to walk around with guns."
Plante sad in addition to addressing issues of crime, the city is also going to work on its prevention methods.
"We have initiated discussions with the other cities of the province in order to assess the best practices allowing the police forces to embody a local service in all the communities," she said. "We want to ensure that the appropriate resources are deployed to respond to the various challenges that are expressed in the field."
PLANTE MEETS WITH LEGAULT
Plante's comments to the media came after a meeting with Quebec Premier Francois Legault about the city's economic recovery amid a possible second wave of COVID-19. Plante said she and Legault agreed on the need to avoid a second round of re-confinement, which could cause the city's economy to get "even worse than it is now."
She said she urged Legault to link any economic recovery measures to social measures aimed at alleviating the suffering of people affected by the economic downtown caused by COVID-19.
She also called on Montrealers to remain vigilant following reports of large gatherings.
"It scares me and I don't understand why people are taking those risks," she said. "It's okay to have a different opinion but maybe those people went home at night and had dinner with their parents who are older, or their kids went to school. I feel like those people forget 3,500 people died from COVID in Montreal. There are real people who died. I ask them to be in solidarity with the rest of the people because it's hard."