Montreal • Police on Wednesday interrogated a man accused of opening fire at a midnight victory rally for Quebec’s new separatist premier, but police said the suspect’s rambling statements in French and English yielded no immediate motive for the shooting that killed one.
A police official identified the suspect as Richard Henry Bain, 62, from La Conception, Quebec. The police official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the suspect has not been charged yet.
Quebec provincial police earlier Wednesday said a masked gunman wearing a bathrobe opened fire just outside the building where Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois was giving her victory speech.
The gunman was heard shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away.
Marois was whisked off the stage by guards while giving her speech and was not injured.
It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favors separation for the French-speaking province from Canada.
Lieut. Guy Lapointe of the Quebec provincial police said earlier the suspect was taken to a hospital during the interrogation, but his life was not in danger.
"We can’t establish at this point what the motive or intent was, was he targeting Madame Marois? I’ll tell you a lot of things were said by this individual after they arrested him, in French and English," Lapointe said.
Police had dealt with the suspect previously for a minor incident, Lapointe said.
Marois was giving her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at the Metropolis auditorium. She had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country before she was pulled off the stage.
"What’s going on?" Marois told her security detail as they grabbed her arms and dragged her away during the celebration of her party’s victory in Tuesday’s provincial election.
Police initially said the gunman made it into the building, but now believe he opened fired just outside in the back alley. The gunman then set a small fire before he was captured, police said. Lapointe said he didn’t put up any resistance.
Marois returned to the stage after the shooting and asked the crowd to disperse peacefully, and then seemed to finish her speech. She left the hall amid a tight cordon of provincial police bodyguards.
The attack shocked Canadians who are not used to such violence at political events.
The suspect was a heavy-set man wearing a black ski or balaclava mask, glasses and a blue bathrobe over a black shirt and black shorts. Police didn’t identify what weapons he had, but camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene. Police said there is no reason to believe anyone else was involved.
Police said a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and a 27-year-old man was wounded but would survive. A third man was treated for shock. Police didn’t identify the victims, but they worked at production company Productions du Grand Bambou Inc, a person answering the phone at the Montreal company confirmed.
The crowd was apparently unaware of what happened when Marois was whisked off the stage.
Marois said her thoughts were with the family of the victim in a statement issued early Wednesday.
"Following this tragedy all Quebecois are mourning today before such a gratuitous act of violence," she said. "Never will a society such as ours let violence dictate its collective choices."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he was "angered and saddened" by the shooting.
"It is a tragic day where an exercise of democracy is met with an act of violence," Harper said. He added, "This atrocious act will not be tolerated and such violence has no place in Canada."Next Page >
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