Witnesses describe violent knife attack in alleged femicide near McGill University
WARNING: This story contains graphic details
MONTREAL -- Several people bore witness to the violent scene of a knife attack on a Montreal street Tuesday afternoon that left a 24-year-old woman dead.
The woman’s former roommate is facing first-degree murder charges in what police say is another case of domestic violence.
Romane Bonnier, a singer, artist and graduate of Marinanopolis College, was killed a block from McGill University's gates near the corner of Milton St. and Aylmer St., in the Milton Park neighbourhood.
“I was coming back from the dep,” said witness Tess Harris.
“I turned towards my house. A girl was walking towards me. And then, from behind, on the opposite side of the street, a man came and he attacked her and started stabbing her a bunch of times.”
The man allegedly pulled out a knife and "stabbed the woman several times in her upper body," said Montreal police spokesperson Raphael Bergeron.
Harris rushed inside to call 911, and then went back outside.
“He was just kneeled next to her and she looked dead and he started stabbing her a bunch more times,” said Harris.
Another witness, Atreyus Lewis, heard the commotion next to her apartment.
“I heard what he was saying to her, and her screaming. He was really angry at her and after he said, ‘I'm sorry, I’m sorry, I didn't want to do this,'” she said.
The young woman was rushed to hospital but died shortly after her arrival, Bergeron said.
Bergeron says the man was arrested near the scene. Police later explained that when they arrived, he was standing there, next to the woman, having made no attempt to flee.
Officers recovered the weapon and transported the man to a detention centre.
On Wednesday, Francois Pelletier, 36, of Greenfield Park was charged with first-degree murder. His lawyer entered a not-guilty plea. The case returns to court on Nov. 25.
Police say the two were once romantically linked.
Friends and former teachers told CTV News that Bonnier was an accomplished musician who sang in the Montreal Philharmonic Choir and was developing a career as a stage actress and performer.
On her YouTube channel, she posted videos of herself performing. The last was posted less than a week before her death.
She was described as kind, friendly and popular.
A man who lives very close to the crime scene, on Aylmer, told CTV News that there were many students around at that time of day, leaving him rattled to think of them potentially witnessing the incident.
“I’ve been experiencing two events of violence in the past three days in Montreal, I think that’s too much. I’ve been living in this neighbourhood in the past 30 years and it’s the first time I see such police deployment," said Paul Marechal.
“It’s very disturbing.”
He said the brazen, daylight attack has left him shaken.
"How a man in his 30s could stab a young girl in her mid-20s -- it’s just unacceptable," he said of the allegation.
The intersection where the stabbing happened is not only near McGill and some of its student housing but is around the corner from a combined elementary and high school, F.A.C.E.
The woman's death is Montreal's 26th homicide of the year, coming one day after the 25th, another fatal stabbing in which a 16-year-old boy died outside his high school, with three teenage suspects still sought by police.
It is the 17th alleged femicide in Quebec in 2021.