Police in Trois-Rivieres said they intercepted two 17-year-old males on a suburban street around 8 a.m., moments after the youths had allegedly emerged from a home.
The unusual scene of half-a-dozen officers — guns drawn — making the arrests broke the breakfast-time tranquility on the quiet residential street. One alarmed neighbour captured the tense moment by snapping photos through her living-room window.
After apprehending the suspects, a police spokesman said officers entered the two-storey house the young men had just exited.
Once inside, police made a gruesome discovery.
"Three people were found dead after a brutal slaying inside the home," Michel Letarte told reporters.
"Two young women and a young man."
Police declined to disclose the ages of the victims and indicated an investigation was underway to determine how they may have known the suspects. It was not immediately clear who called police to the house.
Letarte said it was too early to know what kind of charges, if any, the young men could face.
"Are these suspects the people who committed this crime?" he said. "We must determine that."
Investigators interviewed people in vehicles parked close to the home and, at one point, two women began to weep as they exited a police vehicle. They broke into tears as they walked toward a group of teens who had been waiting for them on the street.
They cried as they held each other.
Several of the people who waited by the police tape had left a local high school after they heard the news.
They said they were waiting for the grim word that their pal was among the dead, but felt they already knew the answer.
"We think that one of the three victims is our friend," said one teenage girl, a Grade 11 student who added she had known her friend since primary school.
"Everyone is in shock, but we don't have confirmation, so everyone is waiting while also knowing that it's surely her. Everyone is worried."
Another teenage classmate said she last saw her friend Monday afternoon, at the end of the school day.
"I remember she said, 'Bye' to me before getting on the bus," the teen said.
Gabriel Gignac, 23, said he grew up down the street and had spent a lot of time with the young adults who lived in the house. He feared the worst as he waited for word on victims' identities.
"I don't know exactly which ones are dead ... It's terrible," said Gignac, who tried to comfort some of the young women at the scene.
"Seriously, I could never have believed that someone would have wanted to do harm to (them) because, man, they were really good people. That's why I can't believe it."
Neighbours and curious onlookers from other parts of town also converged on Sicard Street to see all the police vehicles and media.
Police had roped off a large area around the home, limiting what could be seen of the property in west-end Trois-Rivieres, about 135 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
The outside of the residence, which had at least one car in its driveway and a basketball net, offered few clues that it was a crime scene — except for a shattered second-floor window.
Hours earlier, however, surprised locals were lured to their windows by the commotion at the end of the disturbing event.
Danielle Poitras, who lives around the corner from the house, said she watched police head off the suspects from her living room.
"The officers were just like this," Poitras said with her arms stretched in front of her, hands clasped together like she was holding a gun.
She then compared the scene to a popular TV police drama in Quebec.
"It was just like 19-2," Poitras said before showing several photos she had snapped of the incident.
One image showed a young man who looked like he had given up. His hands were pressed on the back of his head as he stood in the middle of the street, waiting for police officers to make the arrest.
Another photo showed police guiding a cuffed suspect into a cruiser.
Moments after the arrests, Poitras said ambulances and more police vehicles raced to the scene.
"It was crazy," said Poitras, who didn't know the family that lived in the house.
"I freaked out."
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