VAL-DES-MONTS, QUE. -- A retired RCMP officer has been charged with murder in the weekend deaths of two tenants at his home in the western Quebec community of Val-des-Monts.

Yvon Mercier, 69, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one of arson during a court appearance late Monday at the courthouse in Gatineau, Que.

He was ordered held and will return to court for his next appearance on Feb. 17.

On Sunday, police found two bodies inside a residence following a fire on Mercier Street in the Outaouais community, about 35 kilometres north of Ottawa.

The victims were identified as Pierre Dupuis, 50 and Celine Labelle, 54, and police confirmed the victims and the suspect knew each other.

Sgt. Marc Tessier of Quebec provincial police said the investigation was ongoing and police are awaiting autopsy results and other expertise.

Mercier owns the home where the bodies were found and had recently put it up for sale, according to a post on the online classifieds site Kijiji.

He retired from the RCMP in 2007, the police force confirmed in a statement, adding it would provide no further information.

Several people who went through the force's training academy in Regina when Mercier was a drill sergeant there in the late 1980s posted online Tuesday recalling him and expressing shock at the charges.

The mayor of Val-des-Monts, a community of 12,500, said residents were stunned by the events.

Jacques Laurin said Mercier, whom he'd encountered socially from time to time, was renting out part of his house.

"It's a very peaceful area, people just walk around with their dogs," Laurin said on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, this is something that just happened."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2020.