“We want answers”, say the parents of a young man shot dead in Montreal North

The parents of a young man who was shot and killed this month in the Montreal North borough say they feel the neighborhood is still neglected despite the rosy promises they hear from politicians.

Jayson Colin, 26, dreamed of starting his own community organization to make hockey more accessible to neighborhood kids.

The sport was a struggle for his family as he grew up, his mother, Ronide Casseus, said on Tuesday, breaking her silence about his death for the first time.

« He was crazy about hockey, he could talk about it for hours, even if we didn’t care, » she said, sitting next to her stepfather, Roberson Berlus. Both work as community workers.

Colin was shot and killed outside Lester B. Pearson High School on the night of August 10.

Police say he and three other people were outside the school around 10.20pm when two people approached and shot them. Colin died and another man, 25, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The suspects are still at large.

The Montreal North CDEC, a local center for entrepreneurial development, said Jayson Colin joined training with the nonprofit in hopes of one day mentoring kids in hockey. (Montreal North CEDC)

« We had developed our way of working together. Yes, he was my child, but he was also my friend, » said Casseus, who has been involved in the industry for nearly 20 years now.

Casseus’ pain was compounded by assumptions that because he was killed in a shootout, his son was likely embroiled in a life of crime.

« Just because a young man is black doesn’t mean he has gang ties, » she said.

Berlus said Colin has a good head on his shoulders and is always working to improve.

« It hurts to see how his youth was cut short, » Berlus said.

Casseus thanked an official from Premier Francois Legault’s office for coming to visit the neighborhood right after his death, but said the family felt neglected by the city.

Since the death of her son, she has heard more and more young people tell her that they are afraid to go out at night. There is a heightened sense of fear about how he – of all people – might die, she said.

« Violence creates more violence, that’s what we tell young people, » Berlus said. « It’s not one person who pays the price, it’s the whole community around it. »

Montreal North Police

Berlus said he was encouraged to see a greater police presence in the neighborhood, but that can only be part of the solution.

On Tuesday, Montreal police confirmed that starting next month there will be a new team dedicated to fighting gun violence. The 68-officer team will focus on disrupting criminal groups, intelligence gathering and on-the-ground suppression.

Montreal police are also temporarily increasing the resources of the violent crime squad, Eclipse.

As for the investigation into Colin’s death, his parents say they were kept informed by the police, but there is information they must keep confidential to protect the investigation.

Berlus highlighted recent funding commitments from the city and Ottawa for community organizations that work with young people in hopes of preventing gun violence, but says there needs to be more accountability on the exact game plan.

He said Montreal North is a close-knit community, so every death hits close to home. He wants young people to know that community workers like him haven’t given up.

“We need to reach out to them and show them that we understand,” Berlus said, but said they also needed more resources from the city to get the job done.

« We want answers. We want to know what’s going to be done for other young men like Jayson, » Casseus said. « I know JJ won’t be back, but there’s more JJ there. »


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