Wild West Indeed
I found the following article while doing some research on sociology and gang culture in the 1970s. This is from The Gazette in 1974. It’s the front page, but not above the fold. The headline was a photograph of a band member slipping on ice during Montreal’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade. Apparently that was more interesting than open warfare in the streets of Sherbrooke.
I am sort of astounded by the level of persistence and violence described. Not only did a fight break out with guns and baseball bats, the melee persisted down the main streets of town, and even into the local hospital. You hear that there were several biker gang wars in Quebec, but we tend to focus on the events related to the Nomads and Rock Machine in the late 1990s. Most of the details of early altercations are lost. Here’s the full article from The Gazette:
Two Killed, three injured in Sherbrooke gang battles
by Ken Ernhofer of The Gazette, Monday, March 18, 1974
Sherbrooke – Five persons were detained by police following motorcycle gang warfare that claimed two lives and seriously injured three men this weekend.
Members of the Gitans (Gypsies) and the Atomes clashed three times, including a brawl in a hospital over a four-hour period that began at 10:30 p.m. Friday.
The Quebec Police Force, which assisted city police, said a battle first flared in the parking lot of a King St. brasserie when 20 gang members fought with guns, chains and baseball bats.
Robert Provencher, 20, an Atome, was shot in the back and Jacques Filteau, 25, a Gitan, was knifed in the abdomen.
The injured men were taken to St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Three hours later gang members pushed aside horrified nurses and attendants and the brawl resumed in the hospital corridors.
Five Gitans then climbed into a car and were chased through the town by six Atomes in a second vehicle.
The second car rammed the first and the battle broke out again with rifles and baseball bats as weapons.
Marc Destafano, 20, was killed when shot in the head and Michel Lamoureux, 19, dies after being shot in the chest.
Police detained five men as material witnesses on a coroner’s warrant after cornering gang members in a house.
Gang feuds have flared since October and on Jan. 29 Mario Bureau, 19, and Mario Demers, 19, members of the Pacific Rebels, were shot to death while riding in a car.
Since the beginning of the year six persons have died in gang warfare in the province.