Montreal police shot and killed two people Tuesday - a homeless man during a confrontation, and an innocent bystander who happened to be wandering by on his way to work.
Authorities would not reveal any other details about the bystander, other than his age and the fact that the 36-year-old man was killed during his commute to work.
The incident began after dawn as Montreal police said they were pursuing a knife-wielding man who was strewing garbage bags around downtown Montreal.
There were conflicting reports from people in the neighbourhood about why the man might have been tossing garbage; area residents said he was known to collect tin cans for a living.
The suspect being chased, Mario Hamel, was a 40-year-old homeless man who lived in a downtown shelter.
A confrontation ensued. Officers opened fire.
Authorities said Mr. Hamel was shot dead on site. The bystander was also struck and was pronounced dead in hospital hours later.
Sergeant Claude Denis said a provincial police probe was progressing, with investigators and crime-scene technicians examining a scene that stretched several blocks.
One of the streets still had garbage scattered across it hours later. A bicycle was also visible in an area cordoned off by police tape.
"We know that he had a knife in his hand from the very beginning," Sgt. Denis said of the police's intended target.
"What we've learned is that a few minutes before police arrived, (Mr. Hamel) was threatening someone that he knew."
People who work in the area said Mr. Hamel was an itinerant who was a fixture in the neighbourhood. Police said they knew him too, without providing any further explanation.
He collected cans as his main means of income and had been living for at least two years at Accueil Bonneau, a men's shelter not far from where the shooting took place.
The shelter's director general, Aubin Boudreau said they heard rumours that one of their own was involved in the altercation before discovering it was Hamel.
They only knew him by his first name: Mario.
"It happened not far from here, so eventually we put it together that it was Mario," Mr. Boudreau said.
Mr. Boudreau, who wouldn't discuss Mr. Hamel's case specifically, said the homeless man had children and a family of his own.
He called it a sad day; the men who frequent the shelter and those who work there are close to one another.
Accueil Bonneau operates four residences in Quebec. Mr. Boudreau called the incident evidence that such organizations need more funding to deal with demand.
He estimated that 85 per cent of people who use the shelter have mental health or dependency problems and the shelter needs more staff to meet the needs.
A statement issued by Montreal police spokesman Ian Lafreniere said: "Today is a difficult day for the people of Montreal, its police officers, and all the employees of the Montreal Police Service."
"The (force) is sensitive to the fact that every time someone is killed, it's a difficult situation. However, what renders the event that occurred downtown this morning exceptional is the fact that one of the people struck by a bullet was, in no way, involved in the police operation."
Provincial police weren't able to say what caused the bystander to be shot.
Four police officers were treated for shock.
The events occurred around 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
It's not the first time this year that Montreal police have been investigated after fatal shooting incidents.
In January and February, the force was involved in three incidents over three weeks, two of them resulting in deaths.
The investigation has been handed over to Quebec provincial police. It is customary in Quebec that when one police force is involved in a shooting, another force investigates.Report Typo/Error
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