APTN National News
LAC SIMON, QUE — Joseph Anthony Raymond-Papatie, 22, posted on his his Facebook page at 10:28 pm on Saturday, shortly before he took his own life.
“Sorry everyone, I gotta go now. I killed a cop,” he wrote.
The “cop” in question was Thierry Leroux, 26, who was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance call at Raymond-Papatie’s residence.
Now the Algonquin community of Lac-Simon is taking the tentative first steps towards healing.
“It was me who asked to do a prayer in front of the police station, to make a big circle, and I know that there were many that were touched,” said Lac-Simon elder Jeannette Brazeau.
Impeding the healing process here are questions about what made Raymond-Papatie shoot Leroux.
A quick glance through Raymond-Papatie’s Facebook profile reveals a gun aficionado who had joined the armed forces.
But Vice-Chief Pamela Papatie told APTN National News that he was also active in the community.
“He was involved in activities after work and school, like crossfit. I’ve seen him do substitute teaching at the high school,” says Vice-Chief Pamela Papatie.
APTN National News learned that Raymond-Papatie had recently lost an uncle to suicide, something that happens all too frequently in Lac-Simon.
Over crowded housing, drug, alcohol abuse, and poverty are also listed by residents as issues that plagued the First Nation, which sits about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
Vice Chief Papatie says five teams of crisis workers have been brought in to help Lac-Simon to help community cope.
Still, many spoke today of Lac-Simon needing to look within to tackle what ails the community.
“There’s lots of support here, there are services that have been put into place here in the Mental Health Centre. Me I’m proud of my community but it’s important that the youth goes looking for the resources. Elders too,” said Brazeau.
Thierry Leroux had only been a part of the Lac-Simon police force for six months.
As a non-Aboriginal officer, Leroux made an effort to implicate himself in the community.
“We played volleyball together a couple of times during the holidays. I saw him as always smiling, he was shy but really nice,” said Vice Chief Papatie.
Papatie had the opportunity to speak with Leroux’s parents Monday, in front of makeshift flower and tobacco memorial at the police station.
“When I went to see them I was very emotional. I thanked them for meeting with me and I gave them my condolences personally and in the name of the community,” she said. “There’s lots of people in my community who are praying for them.”
Although a memorial has also been set up in front of Raymond-Papatie’s house, a sense of incomprehension lingers on social media.
“Why did you do that, my dear cousin?” said a final comment on Raymond-Papatie’s Facebook page.
The message is peppered with teary emoticons of pain and rage.
Since there’s no one here who can truly answer that, the people of Lac-Simon will instead continue to look within themselves for an explanation, as they begin their journey back towards normalcy.