MONTREAL — Students at a Montreal Jewish school returned to class on Monday after their school building was hit by gunfire over the weekend for the second time in three days.
School spokesman Lionel Perez said classes were cancelled Sunday at Yeshiva Gedola, which hosts a daycare, primary school and high school, but resumed Monday after the shooting he described as a hate crime and a terrorist attack.
"There's no doubt that people are concerned, preoccupied by this wave of incidences and crimes, but overall the population and the parent body and the community is not going to allow itself to be terrorized by such acts," said Perez, who is the father of a child who had attended the school, and a former member of the school's board. He is also the former leader of the Opposition at Montreal city council.
Police said Sunday they responded to an early-morning call about gunshots fired at Yeshiva Gedola, in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood, and arrived to find bullet casings on the ground.
As of Monday morning there were no arrests and police had no updates on the investigation.
The shooting at the school was the latest in a series of crimes since the start of the Israel-Hamas war that have left Montreal's Jewish community on edge, including previous shootings at Yeshiva Gedola and at another nearby school, as well as firebombs that caused minor damage to a synagogue and a Federation CJA office last week.
Nobody was hurt in those incidents, and Perez said the damage from Sunday's shooting is limited to the building's exterior.
The shooting prompted Jewish organization Federation CJA to call on Sunday for authorization to hire off-duty police to guard Jewish schools and synagogues. In a statement this weekend published on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, the organization also asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with federal intelligence and law enforcement officials "in order to determine the threat level against the Jewish community and what can be put in place to ensure the safety of our institutions."
Perez said police had increased their presence outside the school on Monday, at the community's request, to prevent further crimes and to reassure residents. He said he appreciates the support shown to the community by officers and by politicians at all levels who were quick to condemn the shootings, and he urged them to continue to fight hate speech and hate crimes.
"It's got to be … reiterated that there's absolutely no room in our society for any kind of violence, whether it's schools, children or any synagogue or mosque or church," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2023.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press