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Two shooting deaths in Montreal Tuesday night likely linked to one gunman: police

Montreal police say they believe the same gunman is behind two brazen shootings in the span of about an hour Tuesday evening that left two men dead. Chief Insp.
Montreal police are investigating the shooting deaths of two men within the span of about an hour in neighbouring boroughs on Tuesday. A Montreal police patch is seen on an officer during a news conference in Montreal, Thursday, March 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Montreal police say they believe the same gunman is behind two brazen shootings in the span of about an hour Tuesday evening that left two men dead.

Chief Insp. Marie-Claude Dandenault said Wednesday it is possible the victims were shot at random, and they haven’t come up with a motive for either killing.

"Obviously we've been hearing that," Dandenault said about the possible random nature of the killings. "I can't rule it out, but I'm not telling you that's the first scenario." 

The two shootings happened about 65 minutes apart and just a few kilometres from each other. No arrests have been made, but police believe there is a single suspect.

"We are 99 per cent sure we have the same suspect that did both and we only have one," Dandenault said. "We're waiting on some ballistics to confirm that 100 per cent."

The first victim, 64, was declared dead at the scene at an intersection near a park in the city's St-Laurent borough around 9:45 p.m.

Several local media, citing unnamed sources, identified the first victim as André Fernand Lemieux, the father of Canadian professional boxer David Lemieux.

In posts to his social media accounts Wednesday, the 33-year-old boxer posted photos of his father under the heading "R.I.P. Dad." A spokeswoman for Lemieux's management team, Eye of the Tiger Management, said no further comment was expected from the boxer.

The second victim was Mohamed Salah Belhaj, 48, killed a few kilometres northeast of the first shooting, at an intersection in the city's Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough around 10:50 p.m. He was also pronounced dead at the scene.

A spokeswoman for the regional health board, where the victim worked, confirmed his identity.

"We are disturbed to learn of the death in tragic circumstances of Mr. Mohamed Salah Belhaj, intervention officer at the Albert-Prévost Mental Health Hospital," wrote Emilie Jacob, a spokeswoman for the health board serving the Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.

"We would like to offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones. Support will also be offered to his colleagues to get through this ordeal."

Dandenault assured the public that "no stone is left unturned" as police try to solve the cases. Police will be stepping up patrols in the area and are asking people to contact them if they have any information.

"We need the public's help in this, and if they feel like they saw something, not to hesitate to reach out to us," she said.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tweeted her condolences and said she's confident police will get to the bottom of the killings.

"My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of the two victims of the heinous crimes that took place last night in Montreal. I understand the concerns of citizens following these events," Plante wrote.

The shooting deaths were the 16th and 17th homicides reported on Montreal police territory this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2022.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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