Three men were shot dead between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in separate incidents in two Montreal neighbourhoods and the suburb of Laval.
Experts on the city's criminal underworld suggest the killings could represent a power struggle within one gang or an attempt to shake up the entire scene before reputed Montreal Mafia kingpin Vito Rizzuto gets out of prison in the fall and, presumably, returns to the city.
So far, two of the slain men's identities are known, and both were members of the city's Bo-Gars street gang, an affiliate of the Bloods gang alliance.
Details about the third homicide are still scarce, but police from Laval, Montreal and the provincial force are pooling resources to see whether it fits a pattern.
"We're going to share information and see if these three cases might be related. At this time it's an hypothesis," said Sgt. Laurent Gingras, a Montreal police spokesperson.
Bloodied victim runs into restaurant
In the first of the three shootings, someone walked up to a car in the parking lot of the Galeries d'Anjou mall in Montreal's east end just before 7 p.m. Friday and opened fire on two men inside the vehicle.
One of the wounded men managed to get out of the car, bleeding, and ran into the washroom of a nearby Baton Rouge restaurant, shocking customers and staff. He had wounds to his upper and lower body but is in stable condition in hospital.
The other man, who died on the way to hospital, was 37-year-old Chénier Dupuy, the presumed leader of the Bo-Gars.
Dupuy is thought to have headed up the Bo-Gars for nearly two decades. The gang's territory is in the east-side neighbourhoods of Rivière-des-Prairies and Montreal North, not far from where he was shot.
The gang leader was on parole, having only recently left prison. He was sentenced in February 2011 to 6½ years' incarceration for possessing marijuana and cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, but had it reduced to 20 months on account of his pre-trial jail time.
Witnesses said a pair of assailants attacked both men in the mall's parking garage before fleeing the scene.
2nd victim also in Bloods
Seven hours after Dupuy's death, another Bloods loyalist was gunned down in his car in the parking lot of his Laval apartment building. His bullet-riddled body was found outside the front of the building, while the vehicle, parked in back, had one of its window shattered by a bullet. The victim was 42-year-old Lamartine Sévère Paul, who had also left prison in the last few months.
The most recent shooting came Saturday afternoon, when a man in his 30s was found lifeless in a penthouse on Côte-des-Neiges Road near Summerhill Avenue, part of downtown Montreal's Golden Square Mile neighbourhood.
Police said a female friend of the man found him in the suite and called police.
'Sounds like the Mafia'
Criminologist Maria Mourani, a specialist on Montreal gangs and the MP for the riding that borders on Montreal North, said the killings could be part of an internal dispute within the Bo-Gars. That would make sense if another gang member had taken control while Dupuy was imprisoned and was now trying to consolidate his position.
Dupuy's and Paul's demise might also be tied to the Mafia, Mourani told CBC's French-language news channel, ahead of Rizzuto's possible return to the city.
"Someone is probably trying to eliminate his middlemen before then," she said. "Is this a gang war? I don't think so…. This sounds more like the Mafia rather than a gang war."
Vincent Larouche, co-author of a book about street gangs in Montreal, said the Dupuy slaying was almost certainly a planned hit. And he agreed with Mourani that infighting could be the case.
"He's an important player in the criminal business, so somebody obviously decided to put him out of the game," Larouche said. "There is a younger generation that is ambitious that wants to climb the steps. They want to take more power, more importance, more drug business, but there are also rivals who have tried to kill Mr. Dupuy many times."
The two Montreal homicides are the city's 17th and 18th of the year.Suggest a correction