Montreal police have launched a probe into what they are calling a hate crime after residents of an apartment house found their cars damaged and death threats in envelopes with a bullet for each. The ethnicity and religion of the owners of the targeted vehicles was not released.
The incident, which occurred in the parking garage beneath an apartment building on Côte St. Luc Road, was clearly directed at the Jewish community, however — the neighborhood in which the incident took place is known as a “Jewish area.” The vandalism was discovered late Monday night when the smoke alarm in the garage suddenly activated.
Four of the vehicles were branded with swastikas, albeit painted backwards, sprayed in red paint on the hoods. Five of the cars “had envelopes on them, and on the white envelopes there were swastikas on them,” said a resident in the building who requested anonymity. CBC News agreed not to reveal his family name. “The swastikas were huge. They covered pretty much the majority of the hood,” he said. His neighbor’s car had a smashed windshield. On the ground in front of the car lay a hatchet.
“I’ve lived in Montreal my whole life… I’ve never seen this before first-hand, never been a victim of it and just to have it happen literally in your own home, it just left me speechless,” he told CBC Radio One.
One of the envelopes contained a bullet together with a threatening note, another resident told CBC News. Police collected the rest of the envelopes as evidence, before they were opened. “I’m just shocked. This is a hate crime and you never expect it to happen in your community,” the resident said.
“While the intent of the perpetrator cannot be absolutely determined at this time, given what is happening globally, the fact that swastikas are involved, that there were threatening notes and this is a Jewish area, leads one to understand that this was not just an act of simple vandalism but a crime targeting the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Reuben Poupko, chairman of the security committee of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
Although police have not released all the details, Poupko told the Canadian Jewish News on Tuesday the notes were attached to all of the damaged vehicles. “They said something to the effect that ‘this bullet is for you,’ “ he told the paper.
The garage has no security surveillance cameras and there are no suspects, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call 514-393-1133.