Multiple murder charges for mosque shooting suspect
Published Monday, January 30, 2017 5:28PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, June 7, 2017 10:49AM EDT
The man police believe is responsible for the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City is facing multiple murder charges.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, is facing six first-degree murder charges and five charges of attempted murder. He is alleged to have committed the crimes with a restricted firearm.
Charged at the Quebec City courthouse Monday evening, Bissonnette entered no plea. He will remain in police custody until his next hearing on Feb. 21.
Wearing a white jumpsuit and handcuffed, the accused looked down throughout the procedings, staring at his feet.
"It's an ongoing investigation but as of now the only charges that could be laid were those that were laid," said Crown prosecutor Thomas Jacques.
The RCMP said additional terrorism related charges may be recommended in the future.
The 11 charges come as police are working to paint a picture of the suspect.
They believe Bissonnette walked into the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre and gunned down men gathered for evening prayers as the women and children upstairs managed to escape.
From the Cap-Rouge area of Quebec City, Bissonnette is a 27-year-old Université Laval student. The university confirmed that the man studied social sciences at the school, pursuing an undergraduate degree in political science. The school said the suspect has now been banned from studying there.
Héma-Québec also confirmed that Bissonnette worked for them.
"As an organization whose primary mission is dedicated to the gift of life, these events have sent a shock wave through the organization," a news release stated.
Bissonnette was in the Canadian cadet program between 2002 and 2004. Cadets are not members of the Canadian Armed Forces and do not receive military training, the organization said.
Bissonnette had a twin brother, and neighbours said he came from a nice family, but that the two often kept to themselves.
The suspect was known on some online forums and social media pages for trolling: posting xenophobic, anti-feminist, extreme right-wing rhetoric.
Bissonnette often made hateful comments online, said Francois Deschamps, who runs a web group called Bienvenue au refugies (Welcome Refugees).
"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 group's page.
Bissonnette's Facebook profile, which has been taken down, showed that he "liked" U.S. President Donald Trump, French politician Marine Le Pen, the separatist Parti Quebecois and the Israeli armed forces. Le Pen is known for her anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant ideology.
The U.S.-based Site Intelligence Group called it "unlikely" that Bissonnette had any Jihadi ties in light of the postings, The Canadian Press reported.
Michel Kingma-Lord, who grew up with Bissonnette, described him as “kindhearted, generous and thoughtful.”
“He was always courteous and respectful and never had any hate speech or rants either on social media or in person,” he told CTV Montreal. “The Cap-Rouge community is in shock because we all know each other and we would all help each other if someone ever needed help. The common thread is, ‘How did we not see this or what could we have done to help?’ We are all sending love to the victims and their families.”
Kingma-Lord added that it was also important to think of the suspect’s family.
“They are also victims in this ordeal. We must send out support and love their way because they will also need our help. This cannot be easy for any family to bear and we must be united and strong."
With files from Colin Perkel of The Canadian Press