Deadly Riots in Montreal Spark Concerns Over Police Relations With Community

Montreal's police chief vowed to mend shaky relations between his department and the community, hours after a deadly riot broke out among youth gangs angry over the shooting death of a young man by police.

The rampage erupted late Sunday in the city's north end after a peaceful demonstration to protest the shooting. The violence started when some protesters torched eight cars parked outside a fire station and then spread as rioters set dozens of fires in the streets and pelted responding fire trucks with bottles.

Early Monday morning, heavily armed Quebec provincial police officers escorted firefighters as they doused dozens of fires. Police helicopters surveyed the sector from above.

Police said three officers were injured during the clashes overnight, including one shot in the leg, and an ambulance technician was injured. Six people were arrested for charges such as drug possession and breaking and entering.

Hundreds of officers in full riot gear marched through the Montreal North neighborhood early Monday morning and eventually brought calm to the area.

Montreal police Chief Yvan Delorme said he's prepared to do whatever it takes to mend the shaky relations between police and the community.

"We're there to listen, to understand what happened (Sunday) night and to avoid these kinds of situations," Delorme said Monday.

"We have to feel safe in Montreal."

Delorme said the mob vandalized three fire trucks, the local fire station and broke into 20 businesses.

During the melee, close to 100 people were gathered in a commercial area. Dozens crawled through the smashed windows of a pawn shop, a convenience store and a butcher shop. Most grabbed anything they could.

Men and women of all ages could be seen running down the street clutching TVs, cigarette cartons and slabs of meat.

Meanwhile, along the residential streets, riot-squad officers were forced to dive for cover at least three times, after blasts of what sounded like gunshots went off around them.

The catalyst for the violence was the shooting by police on Saturday of three people, including an 18-year-old man who died.

The man, identified by his sister as Freddy Alberto Villanueva, died from his wounds in hospital.

The other two, an 18- and a 20-year-old, were listed in stable condition.

Quebec provincial police have taken over the investigation into the shootings.

Montreal police said the officers were trying to arrest an individual during a routine intervention in a park when they were surrounded by a group of about 20 youths.

A few individuals allegedly broke away from the group and rushed the officers. According to police, one of the officers then opened fire. The officers were not injured.