Officials at the Laval Police Department were mobilizing last week, and the Sûreté du Québec was taking over a gang violence-related murder investigation, in the wake of a recent increase in gun violence that saw a man shot down in Laval-des-Rapides, while more gun shots were fired in some otherwise peaceful Laval neighbourhoods.
Around 2:30 am on Aug. 17, a 27-year-old male, later identified as an influential associate of Montreal-area street gangs, was struck and killed by bullets on Saint-Luc St. near the corner of Meunier St. in Laval-de-Rapides.
Upon arrival at the crime scene, officers with the LPD found the lifeless body of Nitchell LaPaix, who is said to have just left a nearby bar and was heading towards his car. According to the Journal de Montréal, LaPaix, a father of two young children, was an associate of alleged street gang leader Jean-Philippe Célestin, who in turn is an associate of alleged street gang ‘Big Cheese’ Gregory Wooley.
In recent weeks, there were several fatal shootings and reports of gunshots in and around the Montreal region, including a triple homicide in Montreal’s Rivières-des-Prairies neighbourhood in early August. All in all, up to last week, there had been six shooting deaths in the greater Montreal area since the beginning of August.
The Journal de Montréal noted that on the morning of Nitchell LaPaix’s shooting, LaPaix’s remains were still spread out under a yellow tarpaulin on the sidewalk as the police pursued their on-site investigation.
In the following days, the LPD set up command posts and assigned extra patrols, while investigators with the force’s Azimut, Équinoxe and Prévention anti-gang and anti-street violence units were working overtime.
The LPD said it had issued a warrant for the arrest of a suspect, 21-year-old Joseph Abou Rjeily. Gunfire incidents also took place in other neighbourhoods in Laval, including Sainte-Rose and Vimont, in the following days.
“The events which took place in the neighbourhoods of Sainte-Rose and Vimont are unacceptable and will not be tolerated, and that is why we are stepping up our presence, while mobilizing our resources to continue to ensure the security of the citizens of Laval,” said Laval police chief Pierre Brochet, adding that “we will be highly visible and present on the streets.”
According to a summary of other recent gunfire events issued by the LPD, on Aug. 19 around 8:34 pm, gunshots were fired on a residence and at a vehicle located on Grenier St. in Sainte-Rose. A little later, around 11:45 pm, gunshots were also fired at another residence, this time on Marc St. in Vimont district.
Then, according to the police, around 4:51 am on Aug. 20, more gunshots were heard on Grenier St. in the same area as the first incident. The LPD said no one was injured, and no arrests had been made up to that point.
However, a security perimeter was set up around the scene and an investigation was launched with the help of the LPD’s identification unit, investigators, police officers and the canine squad.
A description of Joseph Abou Rjeily:
– Male, Arabic, age 21 years;
– Height : 1 m 75 (5 feet 7 inches);
– Brown hair and eyes
– Weight: 90 kgs. (around 198 lbs.);
– No other special features.
Anyone who believes they have seen or knows the whereabouts of the suspect is urged to immediately call 911.
As he is considered dangerous and is armed, anyone who comes upon him is urged not to make contact, but to call the police immediately.
Information can be provided confidentially to the LPD over the force’s Info-Line at 450 662-4636.