Family of slain Mtl. teen calls for end of riots
Family members of a Montreal teen shot to death in a police altercation say they don't want anymore violent protests, but they do want answers from authorities about why such extreme measures were taken.
Fredy Villanueva, 18, was laid to rest Thursday, five days after he was shot in a park while hanging out with his brother Dany and a group of teens.
A coroner determined that he was shot three times and that two of the bullets hit vital organs in his rib cage and abdomen. The teen bled to death.
His death sparked a violent riot in Montreal North, a gritty, diverse neighbourhood where youth and police often clash. The police have been accused of racial profiling.
Fredy's sister Patricia told reporters at a news conference Friday that violence is what killed her brother and that she doesn't want it being used for vengeance.
"We thank everyone for supporting us but we want things to remain calm because violence leads to nothing," she said. "(The riots were) not something my family and I wanted, we never wanted violence."
She said though she is angry about the way her brother died, she wants to deal with it in different ways. The family called for a swift investigation into the actions of police the night her brother died.
"Why? This is what we want to know," she said, with her mother by her side. "Was it really necessary? A little boy who as just starting out his life. I'd like to be in his place. I've lived longer than him."
She said police should have called for reinforcement if they felt the situation stepped out of their control. She questioned the training of officers, saying they shouldn't feel like they have to pull out a gun to stabilize an escalating situation.
Montreal police say they were surrounded by a group of about 10 teens and that many of them rushed the officers. Two other youth were also wounded in the altercation and are in hospital recovering.
Human rights advocates are speaking regularly with the wounded men to make sure they retain counsel and that police do not attempt to speak with them without their lawyers present.
Patricia Villanueva raised her eyebrows when a reporter asked her about trust.
"Trust, big word eh? What can I say, as a family what we want is for police to be impartial and that it doesn't take centuries to find answers on the death of my brother."
The family also announced that there would be a radiothon on Saturday, Aug. 23 to help raise funds to help cover the cost of the funeral. Any excess money from the donations would go towards programs for youth in Montreal North, they said.
A bank account has been set up in Quebec for members of the public who want to make a donation but the account details were not immediately available.
Police ask for help
In the meantime, Montreal police have asked for the public's help to find those involved in last Sunday's riot and have released photos of a number of suspects.
The pictures show about 50 people allegedly looting a store in a northern Montreal community.
Police say that some were involved in Montreal's hockey riots in April and described them as "professional criminals and agitators."
Sgt. Ian LaFreniere told CTV Montreal that the rioters had little to do with the protest which was talking place.
Police used the same tactic when riots broke out during the Stanley Cup playoffs earlier this year. Police say they have gathered about 500 pictures from video surveillance cameras that were connected to businesses that were broken into and looted.
Gerard Tremblay, the mayor of Montreal also spoke to reporters Friday afternoon and said he is looking to "develop new approaches and solutions" with provincial and federal partners to help improve the sensitive situation in Montreal North.
"We have to step up our efforts," he said. "There wasn't just one factor that led to the events that took place on Sunday.
"There isn't one answer that will help, nor is there any cure," he continued. "What we need now is time, perseverance and most of all, political will."
He said regaining the confidence of the youth and "bringing them hope" is in essential part of the plan. He said social agencies need to have workers focused on the streets to help rebuild that trust.
"I am firmly committed to making a difference and improving the quality of life for residents of Montreal North while ensuring the safety of our population."
He said he is also doing what he can to ensure there is a full investigation into the matter to help restore public confidence in the police service.
"I've asked for a public investigation be made and that the results be made public as soon as possible," he said. "We will continue over the next few weeks to ensure that proces put in place yields concrete, transparent and impartial results."