Bissonnette was 'an internet troll': friends
Published Tuesday, January 31, 2017 1:26PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 31, 2017 8:48PM EST
Friends and people who used to know Alexandre Bissonnette in person are surprised by learning of the hateful statements he was prone to make online.
Bissonnette is facing six counts of 1st-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder after allegedly walking into a mosque on Sunday and opening fire.
One friend who was very close with Bissonnette from when they were children until a year ago was surprised to learn of Bissonnette's apparent like of right-wing, isolationist politicians.
Those who were friends with him online said Bissonnette's attitudes changed last March, when Marine Le Pen visited Quebec. They said after that point Bissonnette became more vocal in expressing xenophobic and bigoted comments.
Among refugee support groups Bissonnette's profile had become familiar, with at least one calling him an online troll who frequently put down women and immigrants.
Toma Popescu, who went to high school with the accused shooter, said he was not surprised to learn of the accusations against Bissonnette.
"For me, it wasn’t a big surprise, you know? Because if we look at people who do these kinds of things, usually they always seem to have the same patterns. Introverts, a little bit anti-social, different in a way, isolated," he said.
He said Bissonnette had unusual hobbies, such as collecting quartz, that made him a target for bullies "but I didn't recall Alexandre to respond in any violent way," said Popescu. "He was an outsider for sure. He dressed differently, he behaved differently. And people didn’t seem to understand the way he was at that time, that’s for sure."
"Usually he had a little smile but it's difficult to say what is going through his head."
A friend since childhood, Vincent Boissoneault said he had lively political debated with Bissonnette.
"Alex was an internet troll. He liked to confront people online, but was not a violent kind of person. He likes to hear himself talk," he said, adding that he wasn't aware Bissonnette was a member of a gun club.
Neighbour Rejean Bussieres, whose son is about the same age, told The Canadian Press he remembered Bissonnette shooting pellet guns at trees in the woods behind his house as a boy. Bussieres said his son told him at age 12 that Bissonnette owned a gun.
"Alexandre really liked guns," said Bussieres. "He showed one to my son and my son didn't like that."
Others said that Bissonnette and his brother were both part of a chess club, and while they knew he hunted, they had no idea what firearms he owned.
Bissonnette's Facebook page, and that of his twin brother, were taken down on Monday.
Police searched Bissonnette's home on Monday and again on Tuesday.
He is next due in court on Feb. 21.
With files from Andy Blatchford of The Canadian Press