Montreal police arrest man in fatal shooting of 15-year-old Meriem Boundaoui

Montreal police have arrested their first suspect in the homicide of 15-year-old Meriem Boundaoui that happened almost a year-and-a-half ago.

Salim Touaibi, 26, was charged with first-degree murder related to Boundaoui's shooting death on Feb. 7, 2021. Touaibi is also facing four charges of attempted murder related to other victims, police said.

Boundaoui was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in the Saint-Leonard borough at around 6 p.m. on Valdombre Street near Jean-Talon Street while she sat in a car. 

She was in a parked car with a young man, who was chatting with people on the street when another car approached and shots were fired. A man on the sidewalk was also hit in the upper body. At the time, witnesses said an argument between people in the suspect's vehicle and people on the sidewalk led to the shooting.

Montreal police held a news conference Monday to formally announce the arrest in the case that sparked widespread outrage across the city.

SPVM Cmdr. Salvatore Serrao said the suspect has been detained since March on other charges related to violence and gun possession. The investigation remains open, and other suspects remain at large, Serrao said.

"It's a complex investigation; it takes time," said Serrao. "We know that the person we arrested wasn't alone."

Serrao did not confirm whether the arrested suspect was the one who pulled the trigger, saying only that he participated "actively."

Boundaoui's killing was a flashpoint in the debate about the scourge of gun crime in Montreal, which remains a priority for the city's police service.

Since her death, other Montreal-area teens have been killed by violent crime, including 16-year-olds Jannai Dopwell-Bailey and Lucas Gaudet, and Hani Ouahdi, 20, who was gunned down in a car in the city's east-end Anjou district. 

Sandrick Jorcelin, a 14-year-old U.S. boy visiting Laval while on a family trip, was also seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting last month. His uncle died in the May 7 shooting.  

Touaibi already had a criminal record when he was arrested on Monday in Boundaoui's killing. Police said she had no link to the suspect and was an innocent victim.

Serrao said the Montreal police's homicide resolution rate is 92 per cent for crimes committed in 2020, 62 per cent for 2021 and 54 per cent so far this year -- proof, he said, that solving crimes takes time.

"Our investigators are determined, they're focused and will never stop," he said. "They will continue until we find the missing pieces, until we can arrest the people and bring them to justice."

With files from The Canadian Press