The suspect in this week’s three fatal shootings in and around Montreal was released from a mental health facility, though a psychiatrist deemed him a “significant risk to public safety,” court documents show.
Those documents, obtained by Radio-Canada, also show that Abdulla Shaikh had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Following recommendations, the Tribunal Administratif du Québec — who handles cases related to mental illness – in March ordered Shaikh to be released from a mental institution on conditional release.
The release conditions were imposed to ensure health authorities could monitor Shaikh’s progress.
At that point, Shaikh’s condition had improved, the verdict reads. But the tribunal said he could resort to “unpredictable and aggressive” actions if his mental illness worsened.
“Without a legal and therapeutic framework, his situation would deteriorate and the context for dangerous situations would return.” [behaviours]’ the tribunal said.
The 26-year-old man was shot and killed Thursday morning during a Montreal police operation at a motel in the Saint-Laurent neighborhood.
Police believe the 26-year-old man shot and killed two men in Montreal on Tuesday night and another the following night in Laval.
According to court documents, Shaikh had been in trouble with the law on several occasions, including allegations of sexual assault, assault involving physical harm and making threats. In 2018, he was arrested several days in a row for trespassing at the Montreal airport.
In one case, court documents show, Shaikh was in a exclusion zone at the airport and burned his passport with a lighter. In November of that year, he was not held criminally responsible for his actions.
Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
As part of his release, the tribunal ordered Shaikh to respect the following conditions: live in a house approved by the hospital, follow the recommendations of the team treating his condition, do not use drugs, keep the peace and submit to urine tests. when prompted. The March ruling also empowered the regional health council in Laval to tighten the conditions for his release.
The written ruling ends with a statement that Shaikh’s case would be reviewed and that a new hearing would be held within the following year.
Radio Canada spoke to Shaikh’s brother, who acknowledged the suspect’s mental health problems, but also said he does not believe the 26-year-old was responsible for this week’s deadly shootings.
According to preliminary information given to the Quebec police watchdog, Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI), Montreal police officers were confronted by a man with a firearm during Thursday’s operation. Shots were fired and Shaikh died on the spot.
His death means two investigations are now underway: one into the three deadly shootings on Tuesday and Wednesday that have now been taken over by the Sûreté du Québec’s Major Crimes Department, and another that focuses on the actions of the Montreal police. (SPVM) during the operation that killed Shaikh.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the SQ said much of the investigation is trying to establish a motive for Tuesday and Wednesday’s murders.
Suspect should never have been released, victim’s loved ones say
For many, the tribunal’s ruling raises questions about how Shaikh’s mental health was evaluated leading up to and since his release in March.
The family of Alexis Lévis-Crevier – the 22-year-old who was murdered in Laval on Wednesday – struggles to understand why Shaikh was allowed to be released.
“You would think that the person holding his file should have seen that he was not fit to be outside,” said Roxanne Lévis-Crevier, Alexis’ older sister.
On Friday, Mélissa Beauchamp, a family friend, stopped at a makeshift monument erected near the shooting site.
“He wasn’t rated well, if you ask me,” Beauchamp told Radio-Canada, adding that her boyfriend’s death was “innocent”.
Both Beauchamp and the victim’s sister described Alexis as loving and generous.
“Every day we would write to each other,” said his sister. “So I’m really going to miss his presence. I can feel it, but it’s not physically there. My head knows, but my heart won’t admit it.”
In a statement, the Laval Regional Health Council, which oversees the hospital that managed Shaikh’s file, expressed its condolences to the families of the victims. It said it could not comment on the suspect’s case for confidentiality reasons.
A spokesman for the health board said it is generally his responsibility to ensure that a patient meets the conditions set by the tribunal.
Release of suspect was ‘bearable’ risk, lawyer says
François Legault, the lawyer representing Shaikh at the March hearing, said he wondered whether the police acted hastily by shooting and killing his client.
In addition to offering thoughts for the three victims in Montreal and Laval, he said he was “shaken” by the news of Shaikh’s death.
“I ask myself a lot of questions. I don’t have the answers. I hope to get them one day and know if the [police] the operation was performed a little too quickly,” said the lawyer.
“Have we tried every measure to establish a level of communication adapted to? [Shaikh’s] situation?”
Legault described the decision to release Shaikh on condition as a “bearable” risk based on his progress.
“That’s what our job is – it’s to accept the risk,” the lawyer said. “Every day we make decisions without knowing what is going to happen, but [they’re] based on the data in front of us.”
Legault also acknowledged that he had not spoken to his client since the tribunal’s ruling.