A large crowd gathered outside Mile End Programme Highschool in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood on Friday evening to pay tribute to Jannai Dopwell-Bailey.
The 16-year-old was stabbed and killed in broad daylight on Monday afternoon, outside the school where he was a student.
Family and friends spoke of a quiet boy with a passion for rapping, and someone who loved to laugh and dance.
“He was a very happy kid,” said his cousin Onica John. “He was going to be famous.”
“It was a pleasure to have him in the class,” Athalie Daniel told Global News. “When I found what had happened I couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable. I was devastated, that’s the word.”
John, who organized the vigil, explained how Dopwell-Bailey’s upcoming birthday is a painful reminder of a life cut too short.
“Nov. 14, he would have been 17,” she said. “So there’s no birthday, we’ll have a funeral instead after his birthday.”
Dopwell-Bailey’s friends also took turns speaking, remembering him as a great friend who will be missed.
John said the outpouring of support brought her some joy.
“He was loved and he’ll continue to be loved,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Montreal police arrested a minor in connection with Dopwell-Bailey’s death.
The 16-year-old accused appeared Friday in youth court to face a second-degree murder charge. A bail hearing is set for Oct. 26.
No other details were given about the arrest, which was carried out Thursday night.
Dopwell-Bailey was stabbed during an altercation involving a group of young people, police said. Dopwell-Bailey was rushed to hospital, where he died from his injuries.
At the time, police were searching for as many as three people in connection with the 25th homicide of the year in Montreal.
In the days that followed, there were videos mocking Dopwell-Bailey’s death posted online. His mother said she was deeply disturbed by the taunts and called for an end to violence in Côte-des-Neiges.
During Friday night’s vigil, that call was echoed by several speakers, including Liberal MP Anthony Housefather who asked that there be no retaliation for Dopwell-Bailey’s killing.
His brother said he’s happy there has been an arrest and that justice is taking its course, but nothing will change the fact that his little brother is gone.
A neighbour of the family hopes those responsible for Dopwell-Bailey’s death will pay for what they have done.
“In terms of justice, obviously we want it, I’d love to see it taken to the fullest extent,” said Mohammad Shaeek and that others will learn from it.
“There is a lesson here, a lesson and a message that is being served to other kids that think that this type of violence is cool — this is not cool.”
As the investigation is still ongoing, police are asking anyone with information to contact them. The department can be reached anonymously and confidentially by calling 514-393-1133 or by filling out an online Info-Crime Montréal form.
—with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press