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Arson, vandalism spoil Montreal hockey victory celebration; 13 detained

MONTREAL - Street celebrations following the Montreal Canadiens seventh-game victory over the Boston Bruins turned violent Monday night after vandals torched and smashed more than a dozen police vehicles and damaged local businesses.


MONTREAL - Street celebrations following the Montreal Canadiens seventh-game victory over the Boston Bruins turned violent Monday night after vandals torched and smashed more than a dozen police vehicles and damaged local businesses.

Police spokesman Const. Laurent Gingras said at least 13 people were detained, including three minors - one 14-year-old and two 17-year-olds. They will face charges including break-and-enter, mischief against a police vehicle, assault against a police officer and numerous municipal bylaw violations, he said.

The riot started after a massive crowd celebrating the Canadiens victory started to disperse just before midnight.

Jean-Francois Hotte said he was taking part in the celebrations when the incident degenerated quickly as police started chasing people.

"One minute we were all hanging out and celebrating and then all hell broke out," said Hotte, who watched as a Foot Locker store was ransacked by looters. A liquor store was also hit.

"It didn't take five minutes before everyone was up on Ste-Catherine Street. It went really fast."

While the initial celebration was relatively peaceful, small groups milled around on several street corners even as riot police surrounded burning vehicles to allow firefighters to douse flames.

Gingras said 16 police cars were damaged and had to be towed.

At least five vehicles were torched and possibly a sixth, Gingras said, adding that an unknown number of businesses were also vandalized.

Television helicopter footage showed one instance where a pair of vandals on a darkened street set ablaze the interior of a damaged, abandoned police car while a third person recorded the act with his cellular telephone. A handful of others stood by watching.

Earlier in the evening, fans held vigil outside the Bell Centre. They were jubilant, erupting into cheers for every good play by their heroes inside.

"A great game, well played, total control," said Sebastien Boulet. "I've got a really good feeling about this team".

Arjun Aravinthan and hundreds of others broke into a spontaneous "25" chant. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups in their history.

"We're gonna get it this year, this is our year," said Aravinthan, who claims to be a Habs fan since exiting his mother's womb.

Police spokeswoman Const. Anie Lemieux said "fortunately no one seems to have been injured". She said police "had things thrown at them".

Montrealer Ava Ball was advised by police to keep her car underground as the tension continued to escalate.

"I had to take my car back into the underground because police advised me they'd trash my car," Ball said.

"I had to go back and wait it out to go home," she added, as she debated whether it was safe to leave as the situation appeared to calm down around 1:30 a.m.

Police were on edge as they patrolled in helmets and with batons.

"It's not how you'd want the night to end," Ball said.

"I think we're all a bit sad about the result of the evening considering we had such a tremendous win."

Gingras said police has the situation under control. The burnt-out shells of at least five Montreal police cars littered the city's downtown early Tuesday morning.

"It's more calm now but we're still patrolling Ste-Catherine Street," Gingras said just after 3 a.m.

Montreal recently had a spate of so-called anarchist violence, including the torching of six police cars in a station parking lot in March.

 
 
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