On March 14, Tony Elian, the owner of the high-end clothing store Giorgio Gruppo Roma on Peel Street, was shot by an unidentified man in his own boutique. After suffering gunshot wounds to his lower back, Elian was rushed to the hospital. The Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) later confirmed to The McGill Tribune that he is in a stable condition and predicted that he would be released soon.
The shooter, an unidentified suspect wearing a mask and a brightly-colored construction vest, fled the scene on foot. He dropped his weapon outside the boutique and the police have since identified it as a Remington 870 shotgun. SPVM authorities have not made any arrests as of March 19 and are still searching for the suspect at this time. They have also made a public request asking for citizens to submit any information about the identity of the shooter, which might lead to an arrest.
“We’ve met with the victim, we’ve been collecting information, […] we’ve done the analysis of the scene, we’ve recovered a firearm on site, and we’ve looked at footage from service cameras,” SPVM Spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant said. “The investigation is still ongoing because, so far, we don’t have any [witness] descriptions that would lead to an arrest.”
This is not the first time Giorgio Gruppo Roma has been the location of violence. On March 8, 2017, the Montreal Police Arson Squad investigated the store being firebombed. At that time, Elian told CBC News that he did not know who targeted his business or why, although he did concede that he knew and attended the funeral of now deceased Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. He also admitted to knowing gang leader Ducarme Joseph but maintains he is not personally linked to the Montreal Mafia.
Before police arrived at the scene, Nina Fainman-Adelman, a master’s student in psychiatry at McGill, was walking to the bus from her criminology class when she saw the gun on the ground.
“I didn’t think it was a real gun,” Fainman-Adelman said. “I thought it was a toy or something, and it was right outside this men’s clothing store, so I was kind of peering in to see if maybe it was a display for an Army collection, and [store employees] just dropped it.”
Fainman-Adelman was on the phone with her friend when she came across the gun. She sent her friend a picture, who commented that it looked real. Other than the gun itself, nothing in the area seemed amiss to Fainman-Adelman.
“There was a tour group that walked by as well, and they walked right over [the gun], didn’t even notice it, so I really felt like this was nothing to worry about,” Fainman-Adelman said. “Before anything else could happen all these police cars just show up and [police officers] have their guns out and one of them pulls me aside, and he’s like, ‘get out of the way!’”
Fainman-Adelman examined the gun for about a minute and took a picture before she was ushered away by police. She didn’t realize until she was at work that someone had been shot.
McGill campus security also rushed to Peel Street after the shooting. Campus Public Safety Director Pierre Barbarie said that the security service team’s primary objective is ensuring the community’s safety.
“Individuals were asked by the police to exit via the back door of the store, because they didn’t want any pedestrians on Peel Street, so we put an agent there to make sure it was only our staff that were going into the building,” Barbarie said.
Barbarie also mentioned that, while campus security doesn’t necessarily have the authority to respond to such incidents, it is prudent to have agents nearby to ensure that McGill students and staff are not harmed.
“We wanted to be on scene to see what was going on and lend assistance if needed to our staff on Peel Street,” Barbarie said.