Update from Montreal Gazette: Hip-hop promoter victim of St. Henri fire [News]
A recent update from the Montreal Gazette on what happened to Matt “Dutch” Garner. You will be missed by many!
Montreal, QC – A prominent concert promoter known for bringing both big names and relatively unknown acts to stages across Montreal was reportedly one of the victims in a double homicide in St. Henri Friday night.
Matt “Dutch” Garner, 29, was identified Saturday morning by several media outlets and numerous people in Montreal’s hip-hop community. [More]
Police are not releasing the names of the two men who died following a fire in an apartment near the corner of St. Rémi and Dagenais Sts., saying only that one man burned to death in the dwelling, and a second died later in a hospital after escaping the fire. Investigators are treating the deaths as the 32nd and 33rd homicides of 2011.
The incident began around 5:30 p.m., when police responded to reports of a conflict in the third-floor unit. Soon after, the apartment went up in flames. There were reports of several people fleeing the scene, leaving the two victims inside.
Investigators are working under the assumption that the men were targeted, and say one of the victims had a criminal record.
“We don’t know the exact number of suspects … and we do not have descriptions for the suspects at this time,” said Montreal police Constable Anie Lemieux on Saturday morning.
Someone had placed a bunch of red roses at the door of the building on Saturday, and broken glass littered the sidewalk nearby.
A statement appeared early in the day on the webpage of Montreal promotional company Long Life Productions, which specializes in hip-hop music, confirming that Garner had died on Friday night.
“Matt Dutch Garner was Montreal’s biggest promoter of this city’s talent and shows,” read the statement. “He opened the doors for the world to see (the) Montreal scene. His life was taken last night and left the city in a state of shock.”
Several photos of Garner appear alongside the message, including one that shows him posing with American rapper and record producer Snoop Dogg.
Garner’s own promotional company was Escape Entertainment, which he ran with a partner identified as Sebastien LaBerge.
Moe Arora, a local music entrepreneur and close friend of both Garner and LaBerge, confirmed that Laberge was at home on Saturday and was physically fine, but “still working through it.”
Arora added that he spoke to Garner early Friday afternoon, just hours before his death, and he seemed “completely normal.” The two had even made plans to meet up on Saturday to discuss an upcoming video shoot.
“He was an incredibly smart guy, and had one of the greatest work ethics when it comes to entertainment,” Arora said. “In the entertainment industry, people have big dreams but they don’t really put in a lot of work. With Matt, he had a great work ethic. He just knew how to make things happen.”
Garner’s family lives mostly out west, Arora said, but he did have a girlfriend in Montreal and had lived here for many years. He had no idea how his friend could have ended up the target of a seemingly well-organized murder plot.
“No one saw this coming, obviously, but the weird thing that a few of us are trying to figure out is that on his Facebook and on his Twitter feed, it seems like some of his last words were somewhat prophetic,” he said. “One of his last statuses on Facebook was, ‘When you’re gone, will they remember?’ and the one after that he said, ‘Is today going to be that day? 11-11-11.’ ”
Arora said the posts could have been connected to the fact that Friday was the nine-month anniversary of the death of revered local musician Bad News Brown (Paul Frappier), who was beaten and shot to death in Little Burgundy.
As for the second victim of Friday’s fire, Arora said no one seems to know for sure who he was.
According to legendary Montreal hip-hop promoter Rickey D (a.k.a. Ricardo Daley), Garner specialized in promoting musicians who were just breaking onto the scene, but his name was also attached to some big-name acts.
“I didn’t really know him personally,” Daley said. “But I always got a great spirit from him, and he was always genuine and nice. I was surprised and shocked when I got the information this morning. He brought quality shows to the city … but sometimes you just don’t know what’s going on.”
Escape Entertainment’s latest show, featuring Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah, is scheduled for Nov. 27 at Club Soda. The company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed contained no mention of Garner’s death on Saturday morning, but Garner’s own Facebook wall was filled with tributes from friends.
“He wasn’t as well known as a guy like Bad News Brown, who was an entertainer,” Daley said. “This guy was behind the scenes, working hard and perfecting his craft.”
Arora said a candlelight vigil for Garner is being organized and will likely be held on Sunday.
“It’s a major, major loss, because anything that happened in the Montreal scene in terms of hip-hop pretty much came through Matt,” he said.
No one who spoke to The Gazette on Saturday was able to confirm the identity of the second victim. Investigators from the Montreal police major crimes division are now trying to determine if the fire was intentional.
Police are asking anyone with information relating to the fire and the two deaths to contact them on their confidential Info-Crime tip line at 514-393-1133.
Source: Montreal Gazette
By: Monique Muise, The Gazette
Photography: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette