POLITICS

A sleepy town stirred by gangland-style shooting

10/10/2012 11:38 EDT | Updated 12/10/2012 05:12 EST
STE-MARGUERITE-DU-LAC-MASSON, Que. - A bleeding man stumbled into a town hall following a double-shooting Wednesday that left one person dead, one injured, and one sleepy cottage-country municipality wondering whether it had become caught up in a Mafia war.

It was the second time in less than two weeks that Quebec provincial police were investigating a shooting in Ste-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson, a Laurentian mountain municipality of 2,700 residents an hour's drive from Montreal.

Police said they were alerted to a double-shooting when, at 9:45 a.m., a wounded man wandered into the town hall pleading for help.

He led authorities to another gunshot victim in a nearby luxury home — where the shootings are both suspected to have occurred.

The man found in the home was later declared dead, said Quebec provincial police Sgt. Gino Pare. The survivor's condition appeared to have improved, he said.

Police would not release the name or age of either man, or address media speculation that the shooting might have been linked to an ongoing Mafia war.

"It's too early to advance such a hypothesis," Pare said.

Linda Fortier, the mayor of the town, sought to reassure the public.

"I find it really unfortunate that such incidents occur in a community as peaceful as Ste-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson," Fortier said.

"It is not the kind of crime that suggests a rise in violence... We continue to believe that these are isolated incidents and that our city remains a safe place."

It was the second shooting in 10 days and the third this calendar year. On Sept. 29, a 28-year-old man was shot in the parking lot of a bar but he managed to get away. On Jan. 11, three men were shot in the town.

Provincial police would not say if the cases were linked.

Town hall was closed Wednesday as provincial police cordoned off a large area around the building. Municipal employees were sent home and events at the city's cultural centre were also cancelled.

-By Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.