Questions surround security detail at Montreal shooting
MONTREAL—Quebec’s Premier-designate Pauline Marois was making her acceptance speech on the evening of Sept. 4 when she was brusquely interrupted and removed from the stage by plainclothes members of the provincial police. Shots had rung out backstage and the officers needed to move Marois to a safe location, fast.
Suspected shooter Richard Henry Bain was soon taken into police custody, charged with killing one man, wounding another and setting a fire at the Metropolis nightclub where the political rally was held.
Two top independent security consultants in Canada talked to Security Director News about the effectiveness of the security detail at the event.
“The job was done properly. The woman was not harmed,” said Ty Watts, managing partner of LTD Associates, an Oakville, Ontario-based investigative and security consulting firm specializing in VIP coverage.
A 32-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Watts has protected visiting U.S. presidents, prime ministers, other high-level dignitaries and a king and queen or two. Now, among other duties, he consults with political parties about security issues.
Watts emphasized that he was not familiar with the security circumstances leading up to the breach that allowed the suspect to get close to the Montreal event, but lauded the handling of the situation after the breach.
“It was a political rally, it was probably 99.9 percent partisan, especially at the end of the evening when the election had been won,” Watts said. “I think the (security) job was done properly. I don’t see any wrongdoing.”
David Hyde, owner of David Hyde & Associates, a Toronto-based security management consulting practice, said that because the election was so “rancorous,” involving the controversial separatist Party Quebecois and, ultimately, its victory, security personnel must have been “on heightened alert.”
“There are very important questions to ask,” Hyde said, noting that the police investigation into the shooting has restricted the amount of information available. “What was the involvement of the security at the facility? We don’t know if the police took over wholesale. I don’t know if there were cameras there. What we do know is that this guy was able to get in a back door while he was dressed in a housecoat and a balaclava with a rifle and a handgun. Had it not been for his rifle jamming, it could have been much worse.”
Maude Leberge Boudreau, publicist for the Metropolis nightclub’s parent company, Spectra, would not comment on the security coordination on the night of the shootings or if private contractors were involved, citing the ongoing police investigation. “We’re not allowed to say anything,” she said.
Watts said that in similar situations involving political figures, police are responsible for securing the sites and coordinating with private security firms that are involved.
“They all work together,” he said.
While not commenting specifically on the Metropolis shooting, he said the incident goes to show that security directors need to ensure that “their people are astute and tuned-in right to the situation at hand.”
“There have been situations in Quebec with face-coverings. This gentleman did have a balaclava on. That would have been a clue to watch out for this man,” Watts said.
What kind of lessons might security professionals draw from this tragedy?
Hyde said that people forget about security basics in their quest to have the latest technology, or the best, most qualified guards.
“It’s about how are we going to protect people from the outside in, how are we going to approach that back door,” he said. “Too often we start off with the solution, ‘We have a great camera system. My guards are the best.’ But what’s the threat? The best-laid plans are very good, but it’s not enough. It’s about reinforcing them.”