Quebec mosque shooting suspect identified, charged with murdering six people
QUEBEC CITY/TORONTOA French-Canadian university student was the sole suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque and was charged with the premeditated murder of six people, Canadian authorities said late on Jan. 30, in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “a terrorist attack.”
Court documents identified the gunman in the attack on the evening of Jan. 29 prayers as Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, and charged him with six murder counts and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted weapon. The slightly-built Bissonnette made a brief appearance in court under tight security wearing a white prison garment and looking downcast.
Prosecutors said all of the evidence was not yet ready and Bissonnette, an anthropology and political science major student at Université Laval, was set to appear again on Feb. 21. No charge was read in court and Bissonnette did not enter a plea.
“The charges laid correspond to the evidence available,” said Thomas Jacques, a representative of the prosecutor’s office, when asked why Bissonnette was not charged with terrorism-related offences.
The 27-year-old suspect, who has espoused support for the French far-right party of Marine Le Pen and had liked U.S. President Donald Trump on his Facebook page, was known to those who monitor extremist groups in Quebec, said Frangois Deschamps, an official with a refugee advocacy group.
“It’s with pain and anger that we learn the identity of terrorist Alexandre Bissonnette, unfortunately known to many activists in Quebec for taking nationalist, pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions at Laval University and on social media,” Deschamps wrote on the Facebook page of the group, Bienvenues aux Refugiis, or Welcome to Refugees, according to The Associated Press.
Butcher, professor among killed: Police
Among the six men killed were a butcher, a university professor, a pharmacist and an accountant, according to police and Canadian media.
The government of Guinea said in a statement that two of its citizens were among those killed in the mosque attack.
Police declined to discuss possible motives for the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Qubec.
“They consider this a lone wolf situation,” a Canadian source familiar with the situation said.
Trudeau, who has made a point of welcoming refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, told parliament in Ottawa: “Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack.”
“Last night this community experienced something that no community should ever have to know:
Unspeakable cruelty and violence perpetrated on those who came together in friendship and in faith,” Trudeau said later at a vigil attended by hundreds who braved frigid temperatures in Quebec City.
He added a personal message to Canada’s 1 million Muslims:
“We stand with you. We love you and we support you and we will always defend and protect your right to gather together and pray today and every day,” Trudeau added.
Turkey strongly condemns Quebec mosque attack
Meanwhile, Turkey has said it strongly condemned the attack on a mosque in the Quebec province of Canada that killed at least six people on Jan. 30.
“We strongly condemn the attack that took place at the Islamic Cultural Center, which is also used as a mosque in Quebec City, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, and targeted innocent people who were worshiping in a holy place. We wish God’s mercy upon those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the wounded,” said a written statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Jan. 30.
“We believe that the government of Canada will carry out the investigation regarding the nature of this attack, which took place at a time when Islamophobia and such actions are on the rapid rise, with the necessary seriousness and sensitivity,” it added.