Two men were in custody after a mass shooting Sunday night at a mosque in Quebec City that killed six people and wounded several more, and was condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “a terrorist attack on Muslims.”
Court officials in Quebec City identified the suspects as Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed El Khadir. They were to be arraigned Monday afternoon.
Investigators do not believe any suspects beyond the two men in custody remain at large and they would not comment on identity of the attackers, motives or methods.
“This is an extensive investigation,” said superintendent Martin Plante of the RCMP, noting four police forces are working together on the ongoing probe.
“In a terrorism investigation, there are ideological, religious or political motivations at play,” Sup. Plante said. “There are activities pursued by individuals that want to cause worry to the public through a violent act.”
Police appeared to be in close contact with Quebec City’s nearby Laval University but university officials would not confirm unverified information that the gunmen were students there.
Alexandre Bissonnette was charged late Monday with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder using a restricted firearm for a shooting spree in a Quebec City Mosque that has shaken the community, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Though police and politicians have spoken of terrorism since the 27-year-old university student allegedly opened fire just after the last prayers on Sunday, he was not charged with any terrorism-related offences.
The young man did not have a previous criminal record and was known as an introvert, and a victim of bullying in school.
Posts on his Facebook page show he “liked” Donald Trump, French Front National leader Marine Le Pen and Mathieu Bock-Cóté, a Quebec City columnist known for his pro-nationalist and anti-multicultural views.
Bissonnette’s father is listed in the sales deed of the house as an investigator. And according to Bissonnette’s Facebook page, which has since been taken offline, his grandfather was a decorated war hero.
But his page does not reveal a great deal about his possible motivations.
A fellow university student however, who also knew Bissonnette from high school in Cap Rouge, said he had developed radical views.
“He was not necessarily overtly racist or Islamophobic, but he had borderline misogynist, Islamophobic viewpoints,” said Vincent Boissonneault, who studies International Studies at Université Laval.
“Unfortunately that’s become more or less acceptable these days.”