Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says “every violent and hateful event” will be investigated by police after two Jewish schools were struck by bullets overnight.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” she said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “This is not Montreal. Our values are to be inclusive, to be respectful and it has to stay that way because this is what Montrealers want.”
No efforts will be spared by Montreal police to ensure the metropolis is safe, Plante said. She also appealed for calm amid tensions over the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Deputy police chief Vincent Richer said that acts of hatred are prohibited by the criminal code and arrests will take place. He said everyone has the right to feel safe. Police will increase its visibility near places of worship, among other locations.
Richer invited anyone who feels they are being harassed or threatened to call 911 or go to their local police station.
The call for calm comes as police say staff members discovered bullet holes on the outside of the two schools located on St-Kevin Avenue and Deacon Road when they arrived in the morning.
Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant said no injuries were reported and that both incidents took place at night when the buildings were empty.
No arrests have been made but security perimeters were set up at the two schools, which are both located in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood. The perimeters were lifted in the afternoon, but officers remained at the scene for the end of the school day.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was horrified to learn of the shootings. He urged Canadians to denounce violent antisemitism in the strongest terms and called for calm.
“This hate doesn’t have its place here in Montreal, or anywhere in Quebec or anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters during a news conference Thursday morning in Longueuil, just south of the city.
Canadians need to “remind ourselves who we are,” he added.
“I know that emotions are strong,” Trudeau said. “People are scared and in mourning. But for Canadians to attack each other, it’s not what we do.”
Quebec Premier François Legault also told reporters at the same news conference that what happened to the two schools cannot be tolerated.
“This isn’t the Quebec I love,” Legault said. “This isn’t the Quebec we want.”
The latest incident comes after police officers were called to Concordia University on Wednesday afternoon. Three people were injured and one person was arrested after several violent incidents tied to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Legault said what unfolded in the last two days in Montreal is “completely unacceptable.” When asked if he would ban certain protests linked to the conflict, the premier said nothing has been ruled out.
“What I hope is that people will continue to be able to express their opinion, but without calling for hate or violence,” he said.
He also called on police forces to act: “We don’t want hate and violence in Quebec, and we won’t tolerate this.”
—with files from The Canadian Press