MONTREAL — A 26-year-old man suspected of shooting dead three people in the Montreal area earlier this week had mental health issues and likely chose his victims at random, Quebec provincial police said Thursday.
According to a police source, the suspect’s name is Abdulla Shaikh. Montreal police shot and killed him Thursday morning inside a motel room in the city’s St-Laurent borough. He is accused of murdering two men, a 64-year-old and a 48-year-old, on Tuesday night in Montreal, and killing a 22-year-old man Wednesday night in Laval, Que., a suburb north of Montreal.
Shaikh didn’t appear to have any links to the three victims — who were all shot dead in the street — provincial police spokeswoman Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau told reporters. Investigators believe he acted alone and wasn’t tied to organized crime, she added.
“For the moment, it seems like they were randomly chosen by the suspect,” Bilodeau said. “It looks like there is no link between them and the suspect, so we’re going to try to know more about the causes and the circumstances in the following hours.”
Speaking outside Motel Pierre, where police killed Shaikh, Bilodeau said he had previously been visited by Montreal police for mental health-related interventions. “We’re trying to establish the motivations of this man,” Bilodeau said, adding that it isn’t clear if he intended to kill again.
Provincial police were expected to meet the family of Shaikh later Thursday.
Quebec’s independent police watchdog is investigating, and at its request, the three homicide investigations in Montreal and Laval have been transferred to Quebec provincial police. The watchdog, also known as the BEI, said a Montreal police tactical unit arrived at a motel around 7 a.m. to conduct a search linked to an investigation into three recent homicides in Montreal and Laval.
The watchdog said preliminary information is that Montreal officers were confronted by a suspect with a firearm. It said shots were fired and the man was struck by at least one bullet and pronounced dead at the scene. The BEI, which investigates when someone is injured or killed during a police operation, said seven of its investigators are assigned to the case.
The police operation came after a pair of killings about 65 minutes apart and just a few kilometres from each other on Tuesday night in Montreal, in the St-Laurent and Ahuntsic-Cartierville boroughs. One of the Montreal victims on Tuesday was identified as André Fernand Lemieux, 64, the father of Canadian professional boxer David Lemieux. The other victim was Mohamed Salah Belhaj, 48, an intervention officer at a local mental health hospital.
A senior Montreal police spokesman said Wednesday that investigators were certain a single suspect was behind both killings and that they were waiting on ballistics evidence to confirm it.
At about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, a third man was killed in Laval. Laval police spokeswoman Stéphanie Beshara said police received numerous 911 calls for shots fired in a residential area in the Laval-des-Rapides neighbourhood and found a 22-year-old man who had been shot. He was declared dead at the scene.
Daryl Holmes, a resident of the St-Laurent borough — where the first killing took place in a bus shelter and where the suspect was taken down at Motel Pierre — said Thursday the brazen violence in the neighbourhood has him shaken.
“I am a bit worried. I take the bus; I work (at night), and yesterday when I heard the news, I said to myself that there is no way that I will take the bus in the area,” said Holmes, who opted for an Uber.
Holmes said that even if he’s reassured that a suspect was found, he is considering leaving the neighbourhood where he has lived all his life.
“It’s not a safe place anymore,” Holmes said, explaining that in his youth, children could leave their bikes unattended outside without fearing that they would be stolen.
“Now you can’t even open the door because you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Police don’t often speak once a BEI investigation is triggered, but Montreal interim police chief Sophie Roy addressed the killings briefly Thursday.
“They are fathers, spouses, grandfather and friends,” said Roy of the two Montreal victims. She also offered her condolences to the family of the third victim, a man in his 20s who was shot in Laval. She said that since Tuesday night, all of the police force’s investigative teams have been working “day and night to resolve the crimes.”
“After hours of intense searches, the investigation permitted us to identify a suspect who was neutralized,” she said, refusing to take questions due to the independent probe.
On Thursday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante thanked Montreal, Laval and provincial police for their “efficiency and dedication towards the safety of Montrealers.”
“The last 48 hours have been trying for everyone,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “It is during these moments that we must all work together and trust our authorities in a common goal of ensuring the safety of our population.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2022.
— with files from Stéphane Blais in Montreal.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Elevated risk of Monkeypox in Saskatchewan: SHA – CTV News Regina
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has alerted the public to the elevated risk of acquiring Monkeypox through anonymous sexual contact.
“So far we’ve had three cases, who were exposed out of the province,” said Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.
“We think the situation has changed now, in the last week. Where we have had evidence of exposures happening in Saskatchewan, in many cases happening through anonymous sexual contacts with people who have been coming into the province.”
Shahab noted that the exposures were happening almost exclusively to those in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community.
“We think now that there is a higher risk that we may see ongoing transmission within Saskatchewan … particularly in this community.”
Shahab noted that these trends were similar to what is being seen across Canada. He urged those in Saskatchewan at risk not to hesitate and reach out.
“If you belong to the gbMSM community it’s really important that at the first sign of illness you do contact the Healthline (811) for advice and seek testing and isolate till the diagnosis is made.”
INCREASED ELIGIBILITY FOR VACCINES
The SHA announced that Monkeypox vaccine requirements would be expanded to both post and pre exposure, following the alert.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside 99,000 doses of the vaccine, with 50,000 doses being given to provinces so far, according to Shahab.
Those eligible for vaccinations include select high-risk contacts 18 years and older who are identified ideally within 4 days and up to 14 days after an exposure. Those who are at a high risk of exposure are also eligible. The SHA’s criteria includes:
- Are transgender or self-identify as two spirit, bisexual, gay or men who have sex with men (MSM)
And one or more of the following:
- Have had a recent sexually transmitted infection (in the past six months);
- Report having had two or more sexual partners in the past six months;
- Had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact involving an exchange of money or other goods for sexual services;
- Report having had (in the past six months) or planning to have sexual contact at an event or social gathering where there is MSM-themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club);
- Have had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact with an anonymous partner (at an event or via a hook-up app);
- Planning to travel in the next three months to an area in Canada or internationally currently reporting monkeypox cases;
- Individuals 18 years and older who work or volunteer at an event or social gathering where there is MSM themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club).
The SHA has outlined how to properly isolate and protect others while contagious with Monkeypox on its website.
Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that causes fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy, followed by the development of a rash over a person’s body. The disease is not easily spread from person to person according to the SHA. Monkeypox is spread through:
- Close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
- Touching bodily fluids or lesions of a person who is sick with the disease.
- Exposure to contaminated objects such as bed linens or clothing.
There are currently around 30,000 Monkeypox cases globally, with approximately 1,000 of those occurring in Canada.
Saskatchewan’s current criteria for vaccination and its overall approach has been informed by other provincial responses such as in Ontario and Quebec, according to Shahab.
“We really hope that by this approach in Saskatchewan we can try to avert a quick or high surge of cases and also prevent further transmission.”
Canadian Blood Services in talks around paid donations of plasma as supply dwindles
Canadian Blood Services is in talks with companies that pay donors for plasma as it faces a decrease in collections.
The blood-collection agency issued a statement on Friday saying it is in “ongoing discussion with governments and the commercial plasma industry” on how to more than double domestic plasma collection to 50 per cent of supply.
Canadian Blood Services has previously cautioned that letting companies trade cash for plasma — a practice banned in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — could funnel donors away from voluntary giving.
The bulk of the non-profit agency’s supply currently comes from abroad, including via organizations that pay donors.
It issued a plea earlier this week for donors to book and keep appointments, noting collections have been falling since July 1 despite a constant need for plasma in transfusions for surgery, cancer patients and accident victims.
The number of people who donate blood regularly dropped by 31,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the organization with its smallest donor base in a decade, it said.
The agency has opened five new plasma donor centres in the last few years, with six more planned by 2024 in an effort to draw 25 per cent of its supply from Canadian donors.
“But this only gets us halfway there. More needs to be done,” Canadian Blood Services said in the statement.
Working with private partners may offer one way to reach the 50 per cent threshold.
“Any options considered must necessarily include controls to ensure plasma collected in Canada is used exclusively to manufacture immunoglobulins for patients in Canada, while also ensuring no negative impacts on Canadian Blood Services’ current and future blood and plasma collections network,” the agency said.
It said Monday it had only four days’ worth of O+ blood type supply and five days’ worth of O- and B- blood types.
The O- type is the one most commonly used in transfusions for traumas and emergency surgeries, since anyone can receive its red blood cells. The O+ blood type is also in high demand due to its compatibility with any other positive red blood cell.
Spokeswoman Delphine Denis said ongoing illness and isolation requirements related to COVID-19, heat-related weather issues and the return of pre-pandemic activities and summer travel that have left many people with less time to donate are all factors contributing to the shortage.
There are 57,000 open appointments that must be filled before the end of August across Canada, the agency said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2021.
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Canada hasn’t needed to declare monkeypox an emergency, top doctor says. Here’s why – Global News
Canada has not needed to declare an emergency over the monkeypox virus the same way the United States and the World Health Organization have as mechanisms are already in place to tackle the outbreak, the country’s top doctor said Friday.
Dr. Theresa Tam’s comments came a week after the U.S. declared a public health emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak, which followed the WHO declaring monkeypox a global health emergency last month.
“There’s a very different approach in terms of accessing authorities and funding in the United States compared to Canada,” said Tam during a virtual news conference.
“We have different approaches … with the provinces being able to declare crises, emergencies at their level,” she added.
Tam noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Canada over two years ago, there was no actual declaration at the federal level for a public health emergency under the Emergencies Act.
“For monkeypox, we’ve been already doing all the things that the U.S. is also doing — being able to mobilize vaccines, being able to mobilize therapeutics,” she said, adding that the local and provincial authorities have the flexibility to do what they need to respond.
“Health Canada regulatory authorities are there for emergency purposes as far as needed as well,” Tam said.
About 50% of monkeypox vaccine supply used, Canada passes 1,000 cases: Tam
In Canada, as of August 10, 1,059 monkeypox cases have been reported across the country, with Ontario leading the case count with 511 infections, followed by Quebec with 426.
To date, there have been 28 hospitalizations, including two ICU admissions, due to monkeypox, but no deaths in Canada.
Tam said there were some “early signs” that cases are slowing down in the country, but it’s “a little too soon to tell.”
The growing threat of monkeypox has raised alarm in countries, including Canada, not accustomed to seeing such a surge as much still remains unknown about the viral infectious disease.
‘Too soon to tell’ if monkeypox plateauing in Canada, but some early signs of slow down
Globally, more than 31,000 cases have been confirmed in 91 countries, according to the WHO. Tam said this represents a 19 per cent increase in global cases over one week.
On July 23, WHO’s chief declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, citing the unprecedented rapid spread of the virus to many countries; the risk it poses to human health, and the potential for interference with international traffic.
Under the International Health Regulations (IHR), when a “public health emergency of international concern” is declared, international efforts are required to stop the spread of the virus. This could include sharing vaccines and treatments among countries and taking travel-related measures.
In Canada, the federal government has deployed to provinces and territories more than 99,000 doses of the Bavarian Nordic’s Imvamune or MVA-BN vaccine, normally used to treat smallpox.
More than 50,000 people have been vaccinated, as of August 11, said Tam.
U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective.
Tam said it was “an important approach to explore” and gather information to see if the same can be implemented in Canada.
“But for now, we are working together with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for really pushing out the approach of one-dose first to reach as many people as possible in our most highly-affected populations,” she said.
Experts urge Canadian officials to take more action on monkeypox spread
Monkeypox is primarily transmitted through prolonged close contact with an infected person and the majority of cases reported in the current outbreak involve men who had intimate sexual contact with other men.
The current outbreak in Canada is largely from person-to person spread, said Tam, but the virus can also spread through direct contact with contaminated objects such clothing, sheets or other personal items.
Symptoms of monkeypox include a painful rash that could last between 14 and 28 days, which can be accompanied by fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain, back pain or exhaustion.
Monkeypox: Canada exploring fractional vaccine doses, but focused on 1st dose push
— with files from the Associated Press
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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