MONTREAL — The man suspected of randomly shooting dead three people in the Montreal area this week represented a "significant risk" to public safety, according to a March ruling by Quebec's mental health review board.
Police killed the 26-year-old suspect, Abdulla Shaikh, Thursday morning in a motel room, after he had allegedly shot dead three men in a roughly 24-hour period. Provincial police have said the suspect had mental health issues and it appears he chose his victims at random, gunning down all three men in the street.
The mental health review board — Commission d’examen des troubles mentaux — said in March the suspect's psychiatrist concluded that Shaikh suffered from "denial and trivialization of behavioural disorders, violence and psychiatric pathology."
The ruling also noted that the psychiatrist found that Shaikh "still represents a significant risk to public safety because of his mental state."
The board recognized, however, that the suspect had shown improvements over the previous six months, and it agreed with the psychiatrist that he should remain released under certain conditions. Those conditions included living at a location approved by the hospital, following the recommendations of a mental health team, keeping the peace, refraining from drug use and submitting to urine tests.
"The board concludes that a release with terms and conditions is the appropriate measure, in this case, to manage the significant risk that (Shaikh) represents for the safety of the public, because of his mental state, insofar as he respects the monitoring and supervision put in place," the ruling said.
The hospital would be given authority to intervene "if the mental state of (Shaikh) were to deteriorate, endangering the safety of the public," the review board said.
Shaikh was found not criminally responsible in November 2018 in a mischief case for having "prevented, interrupted or hindered the operation of the Montreal airport" in a series of incidents over four days in July of that year.
According to a summary of the incidents in the ruling, he set fire to his Canadian passport with a candle near an airport entrance fence. In the days that followed, Shaikh was expelled from controlled areas on the airport grounds and twice from the terminal after he breached security without a boarding pass. He was also intercepted at the airport in Mirabel, Que., north of Montreal.
The mental review ruling noted Shaikh had been followed for psychiatric issues since May 2018.
According to court documents, Shaikh was awaiting trial in Laval, Que., a suburb north of Montreal, in January 2023 for charges laid in 2016 for assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault, assault and uttering threats.
Lawyer François Legault, who represented Shaikh during the March hearing at the mental health review board, questions whether police could have been more patient before shooting him Thursday in the motel room, given they knew his mental health history.
"I have questions but I don't have the answers," Legault said Friday in an interview. "I read the papers, I'm listening to the radio and TV and I'm asking myself, was it necessary to act so quickly, knowing that my client had mental issues?"
Legault said that Shaikh's situation was improving last March and that the psychiatrist made recommendations to the review board that he could be followed by an outpatient medical team.
"The review board came to the conclusion that, knowing that he was taking his medication, that he was improving and he wasn't dangerous as (described by) the law; he represented a certain risk, but not enough to be in psychiatric unit, closed, in detention."
Legault had not seen him since March.
Shaikh allegedly shot two men in Montreal a few kilometres from each other and within 65 minutes on Tuesday night. André Fernand Lemieux, 64, the father of Canadian professional boxer David Lemieux, was killed in a bus shelter in the city's St-Laurent borough. Mohamed Salah Belhaj, 48, an intervention officer at a local mental health hospital, was killed in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough.
About 24 hours later, a third man, Alex Lévis Crevier, 22, was killed in Laval. His family used social media to confirm the death.
Quebec provincial police said on Friday they had no new information to release regarding their investigation into the three homicides.
Speaking to reporters in Montreal, Quebec Premier François Legault offered his condolences to the families of the victims and said he was pleased with the police response.
"I am happy we are rid of this individual," Legault said, adding that health officials need to investigate the ruling by the review board and consider whether any rules need to be "tightened."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press