The rampage came five years after the suspect allegedly made verbal threats to carry out such an attack during a medical contact that police were apparently unaware of until they began investigating the rampage Saturday night, Quebec police chief Robert Pigeon said at a press conference on Sunday. .
The suspect, whose name has not been released, is expected to appear in court later Sunday.
“The horror that took place in Quebec left the whole city, the whole province in mourning this morning following that terrible night”, Geneviève Guilbault, Member of the National Assembly of Quebec and Minister of Public Security of the Capital -National region, said at the press conference.
Pigeon said the suspect drove 155 miles from his home on the north shore of Montreal to Quebec “with the intention of doing as much damage as possible.”
The police chief said the preliminary investigation shows the suspect acted alone and no evidence has been found linking him to terrorist groups.
“We came to the conclusion that yes, it was premeditated,” Pigeon said. “Someone who puts on a costume and then moves to a particular location and targets victims by moving, I think that was premeditated. ”
The attack followed an outburst in a church in Nice, France on Thursday that left three people dead. The French authorities have qualified this deadly episode of “suspected terrorist attack” and are investigating whether the suspect, identified as Ibrahim Issaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian, acted in concert with a terrorist group. At least five people were in police custody on Sunday due to the rampage, officials said.
The Quebec attack took place around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the historic district of Old Quebec near the Parliament Building, Pigeon said.
Ambulance teams rushed to the scene to treat the victims as police mounted a manhunt.
Pigeon said the suspect used a katana – a Japanese samurai sword – and attacked the victims at random.
He said the suspect was captured around 1 a.m. Sunday near the port of Quebec, where security guards spotted him and contacted police.
“The investigation is ongoing so I’m going to have to be limited in my comments, but it seems his motivations were personal,” Pigeon said.
Pigeon added: “We now have information that he (the suspect) expressed similar intent over five years ago to what he did yesterday. This information was gathered during a medical contact over five years ago and was not part of his legal history. . ”
He said police were investigating 25 different crime scenes, including the suspect’s car found parked in the area where the attacks took place. Pigeon declined to say if any other weapons were found in the suspect’s vehicle.
Pigeon said the five victims who survived the attack all suffered non-fatal injuries and some were seriously injured.
“It’s incredible, terrifying, an event that goes beyond logic, of course,” said the mayor of Quebec Régis Labeaume during the press conference.
He said that after hearing about the rampage, he immediately thought of the mass shooting of January 29, 2017 that took place in a mosque in Quebec City that left six dead and nineteen injured. Canadian Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty in 2019 to several counts of murder stemming from the shooting in the mosque and was sentenced to life in prison. Bissonnette claimed he acted alone and said during his sentencing hearing: “I am not a terrorist, I am not an Islamophobe. ”
Labeaume raised the issue that the suspect in Saturday’s attack was suffering from a mental crisis, although Pigeon did not mention this as a possibility in his public briefing.
“I want to remind you that this brings up the question that this city is one of the safest in the world and that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict the consequences of the insanity here which obviously comes from mental health issues” , said Labeaume.