MONTREAL – Two days after a 16-year-old was stabbed to death outside a Montreal school, his friends are furious – not only at the boy, but at the police, who have yet to arrest anyone.
A boy who grew up with the victim, Jannai Dopwell-Bailey, said, “A lot of kids, mainly kids from that school, had seen it.”
“Everybody knows who they are,” said the friend, who did not want his name published for security reasons. “The police must do their job.”
Local teenagers and those who work with them say Monday’s attacks are part of a months-old pattern, so there is growing dismay.
“some were” [stabbings]”In an area that includes teens in the spring and summer, said Denberk Reid, who runs a basketball-based youth program called Community Care Montreal.
“The violence here is getting ridiculous.”
However, the pattern is much more specific than escalating violence, and while some are linking it to a gang war, those involved say it is much more complex than that.
Many said it was already well known that two particular groups were fighting, and that a young man had multiple stabbings, several people said. He is the same person they say is linked to Monday’s attack.
The alleged attacker and his friends are white and from outside Cte-des-Neiges, while Dopwell-Bailey and most of his friends are black and from the neighbourhood, several bluntly said.
Dopwell-Bailey’s friend admitted that both sides were trying to project a tough, gang-like image. His own group dreamed of becoming a rapper and the image was part of that, he said.
But that didn’t mean everyone was getting violent, and she felt that the other group – boys in the other neighborhood – took things too far and were not held accountable.
“A lot of these kids [are] Trying to be gangsters, trying to be something they’re not, right?” said Dopwell-Bailey’s friend.
That particular young man “fears” others with his potential for violence, the boy calls him a “psycho”.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, some youths taunted Dopwell-Bailey’s family and friends on social media with videos and messages celebrating her death.
Reid said it was heartbreaking to see the situation getting out of hand.
“You have that image, you have that personality, it’s hard to turn it on and off,” he said.
“It’s about belonging and it’s about being tough… It’s not real masculinity. That’s why you need more programs that teach these young boys to be a man.”
Reid said he heard the general description of the boy the teens are alleging.
“I just know he’s not black and he’s definitely not from the Cte-des-Neiges and NDG region,” Reid said.
He is also disappointed, but not surprised, the police are yet to make an arrest, he said.
“It’s unfortunate, and we see it all the time,” he said. “If the streets can trace the child or know who did it, and the police are having a hard time, it begs the question, how hard are they?”
He said that the failure of the police to act quickly could add to the problem.
“You expect the police to find the child before anyone else, because you don’t want [the situation] To Snowball.”
Several things can delay arrest: Police
In the parking lot between Dopwell-Bailey’s school and a busy youth recreation center, he was stabbed at around 3 p.m. on Monday, when school was leaving.
“I believe, from what I was told, there were students and some of the staff who were there,” said Mike Cohen, spokesman for the English Montreal School Board.
“It was at the time of the dismissal so people were at the entrance.”
Cohen said he wasn’t sure if police had spoken to students who might have seen it, but “I know they did a lot of interviews.”
The school staff on Wednesday declined to speak to the media, saying they were very upset. Dopwell-Bailey died inside the school as they tried to stop her bleeding.
Montreal police told Granthshala News they are working on it but it can be difficult for the public to know what is causing the delay from outside.
“Investigators are doing their best,” said spokesman Veronique Dubuc. “Of course everything is taken seriously.”
“There are a lot of steps, even information to analyse… Do they have a name? Do they have enough evidence to arrest that person? Do they know where he is now, can we take him? Waiting for the warrant? …is the suspect hiding somewhere?” He continued.
“I am not saying that in this case we have a suspect, I am just saying that sometimes we have a suspect but we have to take all steps to find him and arrest him.”
‘He had a dream that we would all make it happen’
Another teen was stabbed at NDG Park in early June, and Reid said he personally knew at least one teen who was stabbed.
The friend said he grieved for Dopwell-Bailey, who was a funny, “always smiling” presence around his friends.
“We’re all young, we’re all guilty of making mistakes… It was far from a very small thing,” he said.
Dopwell-Bailey “wanted to do something big,” said his friend.
“The concept was, we all wanted to change our reputation, because we are all known as quote-unquote kids from the hood,” he said.
“He wanted to finish his high school, I know that for a fact. He wanted to be with his girlfriend, he wanted to be with his friends, his family, and … he wanted to be comfortable You know, he had a dream that we all make it happen with this musical shit.”