Suspect arrested in fatal Quebec shooting

Gunman who opened fire during victory speech of province’s newly elected premier, killing one, is due in court.

The gunman who killed one person and seriously wounded another after opening fire during the speech of Pauline Marois, Quebec’s newly elected separatist premier, has been arrested and is due to appear in court, police say.

Police interrogated the 62-year-old suspect following the shooting, but said that his rambling statements in French and English offered little immediate motive for the incident.

A police official on Wednesday 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 had not been charged.

Bain is likely to appear in court on Thursday morning. People that know Bain, who owns a hunting and fishing resort, said that while he had frequent complaints about bureaucracy, they could think of no political grievances that he had spoken about.

Quebec provincial police said the masked gunman wearing a bathrobe opened fire just outside the building where Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) 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 and was not injured. She later returned to the stage.

The newly elected premier said that the shooting was an isolated incident, and was probably a case of a person with “serious health issues”.

“I am deeply affected by this, but I have to go forward and assume my responsibilities,” Quebec’s first female premier said, calling Quebec a non-violent society.

“An act of folly cannot rid us of this reality.”

Motive unclear

Police said that a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, and that a 27-year-old man had been wounded but would survive.

A third man was treated for shock.

It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favours separation from Canada for the French-speaking province.

Marois had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country when she was pulled off the stage.

Police initially said that the gunman made it into the building, but later said they believe he opened fire just outside in the back alley. The gunman then lit a small fire before he was captured, police said.

He did not put up any resistance, said Lieutenant Guy Lapointe of the provincial police.

“We can’t establish at this point what the motive or intent was,” Lapointe said. “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.”

Police had previously dealt with the suspect over a minor incident, Lapointe said.

Authorities did not identify what weapons Bain was carrying, but camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene.

In a statement released after the shooting, Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, said 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.

The attack on Wednesday morning took place just after Marois began speaking in English – a rare occurrence in a speech at a partisan PQ event. She had promised English-speaker Quebecers that their rights would be protected, following an emotionally charged campaign in which PQ focused on language and identity issues.

It is unclear whether the party’s victory will lead to a new referendum on separation from the rest of Canada. Previous PQ governments held such votes in 1980 and 1995, but both failed.

“The incident has marred the celebration for the PQ after years in opposition,” reported Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak in Toronto.

Preliminary results indicate PQ is on course to win 58 of the 125 seats in the Quebec parliament, and to thus form a minority government after nine years in opposition.

The PQ was competing against the governing Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ). Jean Charest the Liberal leader has lost his seat.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies