Police to crack down on Mafia after man's slaying in crowded Quebec hotel

MONTREAL — Police in Laval, Que., are intensifying efforts against the Mafia after a brazen organized crime-linked slaying inside a crowded hotel.

They said they will step up their presence at establishments frequented by organized crime groups following the May 4 killing of Salvatore Scoppa at the Sheraton Hotel, with hundreds of people nearby.

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Police Chief Pierre Brochet said the shooter showed a blatant disregard for public safety, and he won't allow such an incident to happen again.

"After the events at the Sheraton, when an individual walked in and fired multiple times inside ... I had a lot of concerns," Brochet said Monday. "Many shots were fired inside a place where there was lots of people."

Brochet said the incident harkens back to Quebec's biker gang wars in the 1990s.

"We have to go back to the war between biker gangs 20 years ago to remember that, so it's the first time since then I've seen that type of violent crime that puts citizens at risk," Brochet said.

Scoppa, 49, who Quebec provincial police say had links to organized crime, was declared dead in hospital. Remarkably, no one else was injured in the attack.

Police have not made any arrests in Scoppa's slaying, but Brochet said he spoke with his counterparts at the provincial police and the RCMP and they decided to launch "Projet Repercussion" in response, a team that will include uniformed officers and intelligence personnel.

Brochet said officers will maintain sustained pressure, conduct random checks and execute warrants at establishments known to be frequented by Italian organized crime groups.

Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told reporters in Montreal she's concerned about the escalating violence in recent weeks and said she supported police efforts.

Scoppa's was one of two fatal shootings in crowded public places in the span of a week in the Montreal area.

On Friday night, a 25-year-old man was killed in a restaurant in busy shopping district in Brossard, Que., just south of Montreal.

No one has been arrested in that case either.

"I'm shocked with what's happened in these events, notably at the Sheraton," Guilbault said Monday.

"I'm worried that if these types of events happen, innocent victims who have nothing to do with organized crime could eventually pay the price."

Brochet said police don't believe there's a war under way, but rather a handful of violent events or settling of accounts. Some of the players happen to own residences in Laval but Brochet said he doesn't believe there's any more criminality in his city than other areas.

"We want to send a message to organized crime in general that ... it's unacceptable to go into a public place and open fire like that," Brochet said. "We never want to see that again."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version wrongly said Salvatore Scoppa was killed May 5.

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