Canadian police arrested two men they believe are responsible for an attack on a mosque in Quebec City, Quebec last night during evening prayers that left eighteen people wounded and six dead.
wo men were arrested following last night’s shooting at a Quebec City mosque that left six people dead and 18 wounded, in what Quebec’s premier described as a “murderous act directed at a specific community.”
Thirty-nine people escaped the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (Islamic cultural centre of Quebec) in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood without injuries, according to Quebec provincial police Sgt. Christine Coulombe.
Initially, it was reported that eight people were wounded, but authorities updated that number to 18 Monday morning.
Five were still in critical condition in hospital Monday morning and the other 13 have been released, according to a hospital spokesperson.
Coulombe said the people who died in the shooting, which occurred during Sunday evening prayers, ranged in age from 35 to 70.
One of the two men arrested was not far from the scene of the shooting, while the other was arrested near l’île d’Orléans, five kilometres from downtown Quebec City, following a police chase of the SUV he was driving.
Police called special technicians to where the chase ended, because they believed explosives may have been inside the SUV. Radio-Canada, CBC’s French-language service, reported a gun was found inside the vehicle.
Police are investigating whether the two men attended Laval University, a source close to the investigation told Radio-Canada. A search is underway at a home in Sainte-Foy.
Police have erected perimeters and road blocks in other areas of Quebec City as part of their investigation.
Premier Philippe Couillard said the shooting should be treated as an act of terrorism.
The attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City was described by witnesses as being carried out by 2 men wearing ski masks who walked into the mosque during evening prayers at approximately 8:00 PM as 53 people were worshipping.
Witnesses claimed that the men were armed with AK-style rifles, and that they opened fire after one screamed “Allahu akbar!” (Arabic, meaning “God is great”) in a Quebecois accent.
It seems more likely that the firearm in question was a Vz858 (above), which is legal variant of the vz58 popular in Canada that externally resembles the AK-series of rifles. Witnesses said that the men reloaded their rifles at least three times. Currently, legal rifle magazines are pinned to contain only five rounds.
Canada does not recognize a natural human right to bear arms for self defense, and concealed carry is not legal (individuals can apply for a “authorization to carry” if they work in certain wildlife professions or guarding valuables, but that only applies while they are working). Mosque attendees were disarmed by Canadian law, and had no real ability to defend themselves once the attack started.
One suspect was arrested at the mosque, and the other was arrested nearby after a short vehicle chase involving an SUV.
The identities of the attackers has not yet been released, but they may be students who study at a nearby Laval University, according to Canadian radio.
Speculation has run rampant thanks to “fake news” originating on the social media site Reddit that provided the names of two men and said they were recent refugees from Syria. The post claims the names were provided over the air by police. Such a statement was not made, and the account appears to be entirely fabricated.
Update: News outlets are now reporting the names of the shooters. In keeping with our longstanding policy of not naming mass or spree killers, we will not post those names here.
Update: Now we’re down to one Quebecois shooter. The other man with the Muslim name erroneously as a suspect is now being described as a witness. The suspect called police less than 20 minutes after the attack and turned himself in. The suspect has not provided a motive for the attack.