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Family grapples with tragedy

(COURTESY WAHIENHAWI HORN)

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Kahnawa’kehró:non, James ”JR” Richard Curotte, 30, died in hospital last Saturday afternoon after being fatally shot.

Justin Moore, 22, a resident of Chateauguay, was arrested and appeared before a Quebec Court judge at the Valleyfield courthouse via videoconference on Monday. He was charged with first-degree murder and remains detained, according to Stephan Tremblay, a Surete du Quebec spokesperson.

Chateauguay Police first arrived at Parc de la Commune before 8 a.m. Saturday after gunshots were reported. They found Curotte in critical condition, and he was rushed to the hospital. Police later confirmed that he passed away around 4 p.m.

Moore, who has a long criminal record, was serving a sentence he received in February 2019 after he pleaded guilty to several charges, including robbery, possession of instruments used for a break-in, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while being pursued by police.

Valerie Curotte, an aunt who helped raise JR, said, “He was a good dad. His greatest thing is his daughter – he had her all the time – he loved his daughter, that was his world,” she said.

“Right now I’m angry, I’m really angry – because you took him away from his kids – his kids have no father,” said his aunt, who called him a sensitive person.

JR shared custody of his daughter, who is eight years old, with his ex-partner Wahienhawi Horn, who had a baby on Saturday with her current partner and was in the hospital when she found out.

“It’s hard to believe. I found out on Saturday around supper time,” said Horn. “She (her daughter Waheshon) understands. She has moments where she gets upset. And she’s sad. Yesterday, she saw his stuff and got upset all over again. She’ll look at pictures, and she will start crying,” she said.

JR had also just welcomed a baby boy, Shakoíenteres, on July 30 with his partner of three years, Watentawihs Montour Jacobs.

“It’s really hard trying to stay strong for the baby. It was so unexpected,” said Montour Jacobs. “The four of us were just together Thursday evening. I didn’t think it would be the last time,” she said.

Montour Jacobs said that JR always wanted a son. She has “no idea” what transpired on Saturday and doesn’t know Moore or his relation to her partner.

“He loved his daughter – that was the most important person in his life, his baby girl,” she said. “He did battle his demons, deep down, but for those who knew him, he was a really good guy,” said Montour Jacobs. “He was sensitive and he was a great father.”

Bobby Jo Delormier, who owns OCR Necessities with her husband Andrew, said the Peacekeepers came by her store on Saturday morning and requested to view her security camera footage.

“He (the officer) rewinded my tapes. They were looking for someone involved in a murder at that time. I didn’t know that it involved a gentleman from Kahnawake. Such a terrible loss,” said Delormier.

According to his aunt Valerie, JR was in foster care for some time before he came to live with her when he was 15.

“When he was growing up, he was a mischievous type of kid, but with me he was good. I had a lot of kids, and he never gave me a hard time, he was always respectful with me,” said Valerie.

The Curotte family has endured many personal losses in the last few years, including the painful death of JR’s sister Kwetiio two months ago.

“The first thing he did (after he found out) was to call me and say, ‘Auntie, please don’t let them cremate her,” said Valerie, who agreed.

She said he was having a really hard time processing his sister’s death.

“She (Kwetiio) was living with him (JR), but she had a heart operation a few years ago, her heart was bad. We knew it was only a matter of time she was going to collapse,” she said.

Valerie also said she doesn’t know the circumstances that led to the murder of her nephew, but will be meeting with the Crown prosecutor today (Friday).

She was the one who identified the body and said that according to the funeral home, he was shot four times in the back.

“I want first-degree murder. I’m not happy, and that can’t bring him back, but he better not be getting off,” said Valerie.

“He destroyed my poor niece. She had good parents. She has a good mother and grandmother, but let me tell you, she was everything to him, and she knew it,” she said.

Horn said her daughter asked her how her father died, which she explained to her the best she could.

“I hope he (Moore) pays for what he did,” said Horn.

The funeral service at Poisssant and Deer starts Saturday night and he will be buried on Monday.

Moore has to wait until he is transferred to Superior Court before he can request a release hearing.

He will appear in Valleyfield Court September 25.

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