Quebec City stabbing suspect facing multiple charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder
MONTREAL -- A 24-year-old man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder in connection with a stabbing attack in Quebec City on Halloween night.
Earlier on Sunday, police identified the suspect as Carl Girouard of Ste-Therese, which is located about 30 minutes north of Montreal.
Two of the victims who lost their lives were identified by the province's coroner's office as 56-year-old Francois Duchesne and 61-year-old Suzanne Clermont. Five other people were injured, some seriously, in the attack, but police say they’re expected to survive.
During a Sunday news conference, Quebec City police (SPVQ) Chief Robert Pigeon said he considers the attack premeditated. He added that the suspect made threats of violence in 2014 "in a medical context," but that the suspect had no previous criminal record.
The suspect was taken to a local hospital for evaluation after his arrest, but no information was released about his condition.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Police says calls started coming in around 10:30 p.m. about a costumed assailant in "medieval" garb stabbing multiple people with a Japanese katana sword near the National Assembly in Quebec City's historic district. Police arrived and began searching for the suspect with K-9 units assisting.
In a tweet, police asked residents to stay in their homes while they searched the Parliament Hill area of the city. Shortly before 1 a.m., a suspect was apprehended near the city's Old Port.
Quebec City police spokesperson Etienne Doyon would not speculate Saturday night on a possible reason for the attack other than "personal reasons" and that it’s not related to any terror attacks.
The SPVQ has put out a call to residents to contact the force at 418-641-AGIR with any information about the events.
'MY HEART BREAKS'
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume called for solidarity during the news conference.
"This tragedy adds to our collective mental load from the pandemic, we will do everything necessary to deal with the psychological consequences of tragedy."
Labeaume is calling for a debate in the National Assembly on mental health and also recalled the 2017 mosque attack.
"I feel like I'm in 2017 again," he said.
Quebec Deputy Premier Genevieve Guilbaul said she was devastated by the stabbing, calling it a “tragedy.”
"It reminded us all of the tragedy on the 29th of January, 2017, when six of our people in Quebec City died."
Premier Francois Legault tweeted, "Quebec wakes up after a night of horror. I do not have the words to describe such a tragedy."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also shared a message on Twitter.
"My heart breaks for the loved ones of the two people killed in last night’s horrific attack in Quebec City," Trudeau wrote. "I’m also wishing a full recovery to the injured. We’re keeping you in our thoughts and will be there for you. To all the first responders, thank you for your critical work."
Canada's other federal leaders also offered their condolences via social media.
On Sunday afternoon, a small vigil was held outside Clermont's home. Around 15 people gathered to lay flowers near her doorstep.
Carol Proulx, co-owner of a clothing store located near the stabbings, said he knew Clermont as the hairdressing salon where she worked is located near his business. Proulx described her as a "nice lady."
Proulx said he also knew Duchesne, who worked as director of communications for the Musee des Beaux-Art du Quebec. He described Duchesne as "someone who was well liked by the people he worked with."
According to his LinkedIn page, Duchesne also served as a board member of Operation Nez Rouge, the holiday season ride-giving service, for 15 years.
"We knew them both. It affects us," said Proulx. "Quebec is a beautiful, big city, but it's also a small village. It doesn't take long for you to run into someone who knows someone you know."
Lucie Painchaud, a neighbour of Clermont's, also described her as "nice," adding that she and her husband Jacques were "a beautiful couple."
"She liked to read novels. She read them all the time, she talked about it all the time. She also loved to travel."
-- with reporting from The Canadian Press.