A man and a woman from Quebec City were killed during a deadly sword attack in the heart of their home town, city police said on Sunday, as tributes poured in for the victims of the Halloween night rampage.
Quebec City police said 56-year-old Francois Duchesne and 61-year-old Suzanne Clermont died in the attack, which began around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the Old Quebec area.
Both victims were residents of Quebec City, police said.
Five people were also injured in the attack, which authorities said was carried out by a man dressed in “medieval” garb who brandished a katana-like sword and aimed to harm as many people as possible.
Police chief Robert Pigeon said earlier that the suspect who swung the sword at randomly chosen victims during an attack that went on for nearly 2.5 hours.
“Last night we were thrust into a night of horror when a 24-year-old man who does not live in Quebec City came here with the clear intention of taking as many victims as possible,” Pigeon said during a Sunday morning news conference.
Police pursued the suspect, whose name has not yet been released, on foot and arrested him shortly before 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, Pigeon added.
The suspect, who Pigeon said hailed from the north shore of Montreal, was expected to appear in court later in the day.
Pigeon said the alleged attacker has no known links to terrorist groups and that police believe his motivations appear to be personal in nature.
Pigeon said the suspect has no criminal record, but that “in a medical context” five years ago, he had shared his intention to commit this type of act. He said the investigation is ongoing.
The five people who were injured in the attack were also residents of Quebec City, Pigeon said. He said some of those injured suffered lacerations he described as serious, but said no one is in life-threatening condition.
The bustling sector of Old Quebec where the rampage unfolded was quiet Sunday, with large portions blocked off as part of the massive police probe. The police chief noted the investigation involved around 25 different crime scenes.
Some residents out for their morning stroll said they heard the sirens and could see flashing police lights on Saturday night.
Stanislas Thomassin, who lives just 300 metres from where one of the attacks took place, said a friend noted alerts on social media on Saturday night but they didn’t make much of it.
“This morning, I got a note from a friend in France in a panic about me, that’s when I realized the horror of what had happened,” Thomassin said. “It’s normally very calm, very peaceful in Old Quebec.”
Surveying the police-taped streets in and around the historic neighbourhood, Michel Proulx, another local, was at a loss.
“Definitely out of the ordinary,” said Proulx as he walked his dog on Sunday. “I saw the flashing lights, but had no idea it could be this.”
Condolences poured in from across Canada for the victims and their families, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying in a tweet that his “heart breaks” for them.
Federal Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, also offered their condolences, while Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the entire province had woken up after a “night of horror.”
“I don’t have the words to describe such a tragedy,” Legault said in an early-morning tweet.
Francois Paradis, president of the Quebec legislature and a National Assembly member representing Levis, Que., near Quebec City, said Sunday that the flag outside the legislature would immediately be lowered to half-mast.
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume said the attack has shaken the city, which is still recovering from a deadly shooting at a local mosque in 2017.
“We’re going through a tough situation,” Labeaume said during hte morning police briefing.
Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault echoed the sentiment, describing herself as “devastated” after the attack.
“We went from a happy Halloween day with our kids, with our neighbours, to a tragedy,” she said during the news conference.
“We love to think (of) Quebec City as a safe place, as a quiet place, as a happy place — and it is. But we unfortunately face sometimes that kind of tragedy.”
–With files from Jillian Kestler-D’Amours in Montreal.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
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