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Local arrested after alarming incident

Courtesy Justice Quebec

A Kahnawa’kehró:non is in custody and facing breaking-and-entering charges following an incident at a home on Veterans Boulevard earlier this weekend. The call from homeowners came in at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, said the Kahnawake Peacekeepers.

According to police, the homeowners opened their door after hearing a window smash. From there the man ran inside, threatening them with a firearm, Peacekeepers’ spokesperson Kyle Zachary said. It was later discovered he was using an imitation firearm.

When officers arrived soon after, they found him on their back porch. Evading arrest, he ran into the home, barricading himself inside for two hours as officers attempted to deescalate the situation. They later entered using a key from the homeowners, taking him down with a struggle involving a taser. 

“It was a safety issue. We wanted to observe the individual, make sure he didn’t have any other weapons on him, and make sure he was in a safe location,” said Zachary, who said the priority was to ensure no officers would be harmed in the intervention. 

Five officers in total were involved in the arrest, he said. 

“He didn’t break and enter,” said one of the homeowners, who declined being named or sharing additional comments. “He wasn’t robbing us. He was high, and he pointed a gun at our face, and then he barricaded himself in our house. Our kids weren’t there. We left, we called the cops.”

Zachary said it also doesn’t appear the man targeted their home for personal reasons, rather it was random. 

Joshua Zachary, 32, appeared before a judge at the Longueuil Courthouse the following day. There he was formally charged with seven offenses, including a break-and-enter charge and weapon and threat-related charges, in addition to assault charges against the officers involved. His next appearance at the Longueuil Courthouse will be on Thursday, November 23.

“We’re going to study all the options for the next steps of this case,” said Michael Morena, the lawyer currently representing him.

His lawyer said Joshua also has a hearing set for this Monday at the Montreal courthouse for another charge he’s facing in a separate incident that happened in the city. Morena said it involves an alleged assault against another man.

Joshua Zachary has a long rap sheet. In 2020 he was sentenced to three years in federal prison after stabbing another man in Kahnawake at the Thompson Distillery, leaving him in critical condition. He’s also been imprisoned for other crimes, including the robbing of a local pharmacy in 2013 and two attempts evading arrest in 2011 and 2014. 

He was already wanted by federal corrections services at the time of his arrest this weekend, said Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief Ryan Montour, who holds the public safety portfolio. 

“He’s not convicted yet for this (alleged) crime, but he’s still got to serve his sentence from his previous crime first. So he’s going to be away for a while,” he said. 

“I want to tell the community we have taken this case very seriously. The Peacekeepers executed a perfect operation,” Montour added, mentioning the large police perimeter set up around the home throughout the more than two-hour long intervention. “I’m glad he was safely taken into custody.”

Since the incident, his mother Linda Whitebean says she’s been struggling to find out what happened, saying Peacekeepers have left her in the dark. As of Thursday she’d yet to speak with her son or his lawyer. She also said she hasn’t been in contact with him as of late.

“My heart for sure goes out to the family. It really does. It was the drugs, that was not my son that was there,” she said. “I know what he did was wrong. As a mother I will always be there to support his mental health and healing. It’s heartbreaking.”

Whitebean also said she hopes people in the community can show her family some compassion in this difficult time, mentioning some of the comments being made are cruel. 

“For us to slander one another during these problematic times doesn’t bring closure any closer,” she said.

Montour also emphasized that everyone has the right to return to the community once their prison time is up, as long as they’re willing to abide by community measures set up to ensure they don’t reoffend. 

“We can impose certain conditions on them. Which we did, in this case, and he failed to adhere to them,” the chief said. He also added those accepted back into the community following jail time rarely, if ever, reoffend, saying Kahnawake’s criminal reintegration program has a solid success rate. 

Working in collaboration with correction services, Public Safety also has the right to recommend against an offender’s reintegration back into the community should they believe they have a high chance of reoffending, Montour said. Actually banishing someone from the community should only be reserved for the most extreme cases, and would require input from all MCK chiefs. 

“Banishment has to be community driven,” he said. “We have banished people in the past, but it was through the KKR (Kahnawake’s residency law), and their entitlement to reside on the reserve.”

This article was originally published in print on Friday, November 17, in issue 32.46 of The Eastern Door.

Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.