A 51-year-old public bus driver is being charged with first-degree murder for killing two children and injuring six others after ramming his bus into a crowded daycare. The incident occurred during drop-off hours, giving police reason to believe it was a calculated crash – though a motive hasn’t been found.
The driver has been identified as Pierre Ny St-Amand of Laval, a Canadian city about 30 kilometers from Montreal. In addition to the first-degree murder charge, the bus driver is also facing charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm. He’s being held in jail.
While the investigation is still underway, we know that St-Amand lived roughly 10 kilometers from the daycare and had been working as a public bus driver for a decade. He’s being described by friends and neighbors as a quiet and pleasant man and has been living at home with his two daughters and wife.
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Unfortunately, that’s not the type of man witnesses saw after ramming his bus into the daycare. After he emerged from the bus, he was seen screaming incomprehensibly as he ripped his clothes off. He clearly wasn’t in his right mind before four civilians subdued him – the police arrived shortly after and cuffed him.
All in all, the man is facing nine charges, and more than a dozen were injured in the crash – the children who were involved were of preschool age. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital in Montreal and was given a psychiatric evaluation to ensure he wasn’t a threat to anyone else – including the doctors.
On Wednesday, St-Amand appeared in front of a judge for his first court appearance – the same day of the incident – but refused to speak and only interacted by nodding his head. After the hearing, he was being escorted by a police officer back to his room when he punched the police officer in the head.
“The motive remains incomprehensible still today. No one can predict this kind of event. No one can predict that someone gets up in the morning, takes off with a bus and decides to hit a daycare with a bus,” said Public Security Minister François Bonnardel on Thursday. The community continues to mourn.
The Bus Driver Will Appear in Court Again on February 17th
Many residents in the Laval community are still trying to piece together what happened on Wednesday as many questions remain. As of right now, doctors and psychologists haven’t found any evidence that the bus driver had mental health issues or sought mental health services prior to the horrific incident.
St-Amand is due to appear in court on February 17, at which point a judge will likely order a psychiatric evaluation in hopes of learning more. Many in the community, including a Quebec minister in charge of social services, are calling for the creation of programs aimed at helping the unstable seek quality care.
On Thursday, community members gathered for a makeshift memorial as dozens came to show their respects. Flowers, stuffed animals, and signs were placed in the snow as a crisis center was created not too far away from the daycare. Our hearts go out to the families of those that were killed or injured.
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This is the perfect time to remind everyone that mental health issues are real, even though many people try to play it off and avoid asking for or receiving help. For Americans who are ready to seek the help of a mental health professional, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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