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Police officer’s death follows disturbing pattern

Thierry Leroux is shown in a photo from the Facebook page of his friend Simon Villeneuve. Quebec provincial police have identified the police officer who was fatally shot in the line of duty in Lac-Simon on Saturday night as 26-year-old Thierry Leroux. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook

Within minutes of shooting a police officer to death, Joseph Raymond Papatie took to Facebook, where he confessed and apologized.

"Dsl tout le monde menvo asteur j'ai tuer un police," ungrammatical French-language shorthand that translates roughly as: "Sorry everyone, gotta go now, I killed a cop." Then he shot himself to death.

The sordid murder-suicide drama unfolded late Saturday night in the First Nations community of Lac-Simon, located about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal, in the Abitibi region.

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At 10:30 p.m., police responded to a routine domestic disturbance call on the Algonquin reserve. As two officers from the Anishnabe Takonewini Police Service walked toward the house, one of them was shot.

Thierry Leroux, 26, died instantly. He had been on the job for only six months.

"Police did not have time to respond," said Benoît Coutu, a spokesman for the Sûreté du Québec provincial police.

The second officer was treated for shock. Investigators are not saying if there was another person in the house, or who called police.

"We're in the early stages of the investigation," was all Mr. Coutu would say.

The case underscores a troubling reality that exists in many remote communities: a toxic blend of drug/alcohol abuse and violence, and rookie police officers who are overwhelmed trying to deal with it.

The Facebook posts by Mr. Papatie – who used the name Anthony Raymond Michel online – suggest he had a serious drinking problem and a passion for firearms.

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The deadly weekend shooting is eerily similar to one in March, 2013 in Kuujjuaq, an Inuit community in Northern Quebec. Steve Dery, 27, of the Kativik Regional Police Force was shot to death as he walked toward a home responding to a report of domestic violence.

Lac-Simon (also known as Simosagigan) is a community of about 1,200 residents.

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About the Author
Public health reporter

André Picard is a health reporter and columnist at The Globe and Mail, where he has been a staff writer since 1987. He is also the author of three bestselling books.André has received much acclaim for his writing. More


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