'Everyone knows' the suspect in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old, so why no arrests, Montreal teens ask

Two days after a 16-year-old was stabbed to death outside his Montreal school, his friends are furious—not only at the boy they say attacked him, but at the police, who haven’t arrested anyone yet.

“A lot of kids, mainly kids from that school, witnessed it,” said one boy, who grew up with the victim, Jannai Dopwell-Bailey.

“Everyone knows who they are,” said the friend, who didn’t want his name published for safety reasons. “The cops need to do their job.”

There’s growing frustration, also, because Monday’s attack is part of a pattern going back months, say local teens and those who work with them.

“There were a few [stabbings]" in the area in the spring and summer involving teenagers, said Denburk Reid, who runs a basketball-based youth program called Community Cares Montreal.

“The violence over here is getting ridiculous.”

The pattern is much more specific than escalating violence, however, and while some are summing it up as a gang war, those involved say it's more complicated than that.

Several people said it's already well known that two particular groups have been fighting, and that one young man perpetrated multiple stabbings, said several people. He’s the same person they say is linked to Monday’s attack.

The alleged attacker and his friends are white and from outside Cote-des-Neiges, while Dopwell-Bailey and most of his friends are Black and from the neighbourhood, several people said bluntly.

Both sides were trying to project a tough, gang-like image, Dopwell-Bailey's friend admitted. Their own group dreamed of being rappers and the image was part of that, he said.

But that doesn’t mean everyone was being violent, and he ended up feeling the other group—the boys from the other neighbourhood—took things much too far and haven’t been held accountable.

“A lot of these kids [are] trying to trying to be gangster, trying to be something they're not, right?” said Dopwell-Bailey’s friend.

That particular young man makes others "terrified" with his capacity for violence, the boy said, calling him "psycho."

On Tuesday and Wednesday, some young people taunted Dopwell-Bailey's family and friends on social media with videos and messages celebrating his death. 

Reid said it’s been heartbreaking to watch the situation get out of hand.

“You have that image, you have that persona about you, it's hard to turn it on and off,” he said.

“This thing of belonging and this thing of being tough… it's not real manhood. That's why you need more programs that teach these young boys how to be a man.”

Reid said he’s heard the same general description of the boy teens are accusing.

“I just know that he's not Black and he's definitely not from the Cote-des-Neiges and NDG area,” Reid said.

He’s also frustrated, but not surprised, the police haven’t made arrests yet, he said.

“It's unfortunate, and we see it all the time,” he said. “If the streets can locate the kid or know who did it, and the police are having a hard time, it begs the question, how hard are they trying?”

Police’s failure to act quickly can worsen the problem, he said.

“You hope that the police find the kid before anybody else finds him, because you don't want [the situation] to snowball."

MANY THINGS CAN DELAY ARREST: POLICE

The stabbing happened at about 3 p.m. on Monday, as school was letting out, in the parking lot between Dopwell-Bailey’s school and a busy youth recreation centre.

“I believe, from what I was told, that there were students and some staff who were there when it happened,” said Mike Cohen, a spokesperson for the English Montreal School Board.

“It was at dismissal time so people were at the entrance.”

Cohen said he wasn’t sure if police have spoken to students who may have witnessed it, but “I know they've done a lot of interviews.”

Staff at the school declined to speak to media on Wednesday, saying they were too upset. Dopwell-Bailey died inside the school as they tried to stop his bleeding.

Montreal police told CTV News that they’re working on it but it can be hard for the public to know, from the outside, what’s creating delays.

“The investigators are doing their best,” said spokesperson Veronique Dubuc. “Of course everything is taken seriously.”

“There are a lot of steps, information to analyze, also… do they have a name? Do they have enough proof to arrest the person? Do they know exactly where he is right now, are we waiting for a warrant to go get him? ...Is the suspect hiding somewhere?” she continued.

“I’m not saying that in this case we have a suspect, I’m just saying that sometimes we have a suspect but we have to take all the steps to find him and arrest him.”

‘HIS DREAM WAS THAT WE’D ALL MAKE IT’

Another teenager was stabbed in an NDG park earlier in June, and Reid said he personally knew of at least one teen who was stabbed.

The friend said he’s grieving 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 too far gone from something very small,” he said.

Dopwell-Bailey wanted “to do something big,” his friend said.

“The concept was, we all wanted to change our reputation, because we're all known as the 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 live comfortably. You know, his dream was that we'd all make it with this music sh*t.”

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