MONTREAL – Joseph and Michele Abitbol were awakened at 3 a.m. Saturday by the sudden commotion outside their Gouin Blvd. E. home of two police cars, a SWAT team and a bus, which they’d soon learn was there to ferry neighbours away from the Abitbol’s 28-year-old son.
David Abitbol, who goes by the name David Darkiller on Facebook, is to appear today at the Montreal courthouse for a bail hearing, after being charged Saturday with one count of uttering death threats against former classmates and teachers, and one of improper storage of a firearm – meaning Abitbol’s guns weren’t locked up.
"I looked out the window and thought there must be a robber in the neighbourhood," Michele Abitbol, her voice still shaking from fear, told The Gazette.
But within seconds police were yelling at her to come out of the house, accompanied by her 72-year-old husband, Joseph.
"It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone," Michele Abitbol said. "I’ve been crying for two days."
The frightened couple obeyed and came out to at least a dozen officers -Surete du Quebec and Montreal police -who had their guns drawn. Some shined flashlights directly into their faces, they said.
An investigator then phoned the house and ordered David, who was awake and preparing a late-night snack, to come outside. When he did, they put him face-down on the ground and handcuffed him.
Family members were told not to talk to one another, Michele Abitbol said, adding she was "shaking like a leaf."
"They showed up like an army," said an exhausted Joseph Abitbol. "They went inside and searched the house and said they found a grenade, but then I showed them that it was actually a candle."
Police seized five guns, all of which were registered, said Richard Gagne, spokesman for the Surete du Quebec.
More charges may be laid today.
The Abitbols were adamant yesterday that their son, who attended Calixa Lavallee Secondary School and Ahuntsic CEGEP, hasn’t broken any laws.
"The police don’t have anything against him except discussions on Facebook where he is role playing and saying I’ll kill so-and-so, he’ll kill so-and-so," his mother said. "These are all virtual games that he plays to relax."
Her son, she said, belonged to a shooting club for the last five or six years where he "always followed the rules" and had permits for his guns, which she said the police verified.
She and her husband knew he belonged to the club, and knew his guns were in the house.
"He is a very serious person, who liked skating, roller-blading and belonged to a dragon boat team," she said.
On his Facebook page, Abitbol lists his favourite quotation as "death is the only solution." Two websites he says he likes are "GUNS!!!", a site for "people who like guns" that has close to 4,000 fans and "Sniper", a site for sharpshooters. He also lists war games, such as Empire Craft and Kingdoms of Camelot.
He also plays popular online games like Fishville, which is described as "an addictive game where you raise cute baby fish, feed them as they grow, and decorate your fish tanks with friends!" and Petville, a game "where you raise, dress and care for a pet that you create."
The game that appears on a regular basis on his Facebook page up until the end of August is World at War.
His mother said her only child worked for six years at a printing company, was unemployed for about four months, but has been back at work at a printer regularly since January.
Yesterday, as news broke of his arrest, friends began posting messages of support on his Facebook page.
One said that his only fault was that he was always exaggerating and kidding around.
"You’re good at online games but you’d never kill a fly," a woman said. "Your passion for guns and the shooting club is your life.
"Poor David! Stay strong!" His parents said they spoke
to him twice from Rivieres des Prairies detention centre, where he has been held since his arrest.
"He doesn’t understand why this is happening," Michele Abitbol said. "He said he explained everything to the police."
She brushed off suggestions that police may have reacted because of the similarities to Dawson College shooter Kimveer Gill, who also liked online games, owned guns and belonged to a shooting club.
"We support our son and will be there (today) in court," she said.