Quebec mosque attack: Police charge student Alexandre Bissonnette.
A French-Canadian university student, the sole suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, has been charged with the premeditated murder of six people in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called “a terrorist attack.”
Court documents identified the gunman in the attack on Sunday evening 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 was set to appear again on February 21. No charge was read in court and Bissonnette did not enter a plea.
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 Quebec.
“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.”
He added a personal message to Canada’s 1 million Muslims:
“Know that we value you. You enrich our shared country in immeasurable ways. It is your home. Last night’s horrible crime against the Muslim community was an act of terror committed against Canada and against all Canadians. We will grieve with you. We will defend you. We will love you. And we will stand with you.”
Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became an issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.
In addition to the six killed, five people were critically injured and 12 were treated for minor injuries, a spokeswoman for the Quebec City University Hospital said.
US President Donald Trump called Trudeau to express his condolences “and offered to provide any assistance as needed,” said Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad.
Over the weekend, Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, his response to an executive order by Trump on Friday to halt the US refugee program and to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that the Quebec shooting was “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to our nation’s safety and security.”