A suspect in three fatal shootings this week in and around Montreal has been released from a psychiatric hospital, though a psychiatrist deemed him a “serious risk to public safety,” court documents show.
Those documents obtained by Radio Canada also show that Abdullah Sheikh was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Following the recommendations Administrative Tribunal of Quebec — who deals with cases involving mental illness, ordered the release of the Sheikh in March from a psychiatric facility under certain conditions.
Release conditions were put in place to allow health authorities to monitor the Sheikh’s progress.
At that time, the Sheikh’s condition was improving, the ruling says. But the tribunal said it could resort to “unpredictable and aggressive” actions if his mental illness worsened.
“Without a legal and therapeutic framework, his situation will worsen and lead to the return of the context for dangerous [behaviours]“, the court said in its ruling.
A 26-year-old man was shot dead Thursday morning during a Montreal police operation at a motel in the city’s Saint Laurent neighborhood.
Police believe the 26-year-old man shot and killed two men Tuesday night in Montreal and another the following night in Laval.
According to court documents, the Sheikh had several run-ins with the law, including allegations of sexual assault, bodily harm and threats. In 2018, he was arrested for several days in a row for breaking into the Montreal airport.
In one case, court documents show, the Sheikh was in a restricted area at an airport and burned his passport with a lighter. In November of that year, he was found not guilty of his actions.
Soon after, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
As part of his release, the tribunal ordered the Sheikh to comply with the following conditions: live in a hospital-approved home, follow the advice of the team treating his condition, abstain from drug use, remain calm, and take a urine test when asked to do so. . The March decision also gave the Regional Board of Health in Laval the right to tighten the conditions for his release.
The written ruling ends with a mention that the Sheikh’s case will be reviewed and a new hearing will take place within the next year.
Radio-Canada spoke to the Sheikh’s brother, who acknowledged the suspect’s mental health issues but also said he did not believe the 26-year-old was responsible for this week’s fatal shooting.
- Montreal police said two fatal shootings last night were likely linked and committed by the same shooter.
According to preliminary information provided by the Quebec Police Supervisory Authority, Office of Independent Investigations (BEI), during an operation on Thursday, Montreal police officers were confronted by a man with a firearm. Shots rang out and the Sheikh died on the spot.
His death means there are now two investigations, one investigating the three fatal homicides on Tuesday and Wednesday, which has now been transferred to the Sûreté du Québec Serious Crime Unit, and the other will focus on the actions of the Montreal Police Force (SPVM) during the operation, in as a result of which the Sheikh was killed.
- Suspect in 3 seemingly random murders shot to death by Montreal police
On Thursday, an SQ spokesperson said much of its investigation is focused on establishing motives for the killings committed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Suspect should not have been released, relatives of victims say
For many, the tribunal’s decision raises questions about how the Sheikh’s mental health was assessed before and after his release in March.
The family of Alexis Levy-Crevier, the 22-year-old killed on Wednesday in Laval, is having a hard time understanding why the Sheikh was allowed to be released.
“You would think that the person who had his case in their hands should have understood that he could not be on the street,” said Roxanne Levy-Crevir, Alexis’ older sister.
On Friday, Melissa Beauchamp, a family friend, stopped at a makeshift memorial erected near the shooting site.
“He wasn’t appreciated, if you ask me,” Beauchamp told Radio-Canada, adding that her friend’s death was “for no reason.”
Both Beauchamp and the victim’s sister described Alexis as loving and generous.
“Every day we wrote to each other,” his sister said. “So I will really miss his presence. I feel it, but physically it’s not there. My head knows it, but my heart doesn’t want to admit it.”
In a statement, the Laval Regional Health Board, which oversees the hospital in which the Sheikh’s case was located, expressed condolences to the families of the victims. He said he could not comment on the suspect’s case for privacy reasons.
A spokesman for the health board said that, generally speaking, its responsibility is to make sure that the patient complies with the conditions set by the tribunal.
Freeing suspect was ‘tolerable’ risk, lawyer says
François Legault, the lawyer who represented the Sheikh at the March hearing, said he was wondering if the police were quick to shoot and kill his client.
In addition to expressing his thoughts about the three victims in Montreal and Laval, he said he was “shocked” by the news of the Sheikh’s death.
“I ask myself a lot of questions. I don’t have answers. I hope to get them one day and find out [police] The operation was carried out too quickly,” the lawyer said.
“Have we tried every measure to establish a level of communication that would be adapted to [Shaikh’s] situation?”
Lego described the decision to release Sheikh under certain conditions as an “acceptable” risk based on his progress.
“That’s what our job is to take risks,” the lawyer said. “Every day we make decisions, not knowing what will happen next, but [they’re] based on the data that is before us.”
Lego also admitted that he did not speak to his client after the tribunal’s decision.