A man dressed in medieval clothing and armed with a Japanese sword was arrested Sunday on suspicion of killing two people and injuring five others on Halloween near the historic Château Frontenac hotel in Quebec City.
Quebec police said their initial information indicates the suspect’s motive was personal and not terrorism.
“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,” Quebec Police Chief Robert Pigeon said.
Pigeon said the suspect, who was from the Montreal area, made a threat of violence in 2014.
“That information would have been revealed in a medical context over five years ago. It was not something that was in a criminal record,” Pigeon said.
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume said Canada needs to have a debate about how to deal with mental illness.
Labeaume said the attack has shaken the city, which is still recovering from a shooting at a local mosque in 2017 that killed six.
Police had earlier warned residents to remain indoors as they hunted for the man in the costume with a bladed weapon. They later described the weapon as a katana. Police were first notified of the stabbings near the National Assembly shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Police said 56-year-old Francois Duchesne and 61-year-old Suzanne Clermont died.
The five injured victims were taken to a hospital. “Some have very significant lacerations but we do not fear for their lives,” Pigeon said.
Steve Jolicoeur, a freelance photographer, said the deceased male had his throat slit.
Jolicoeur said another person was cut on the shoulder while another was cut on the head and hand.
He also witnessed the arrest of the suspect, who threw his sword in the air.
“He seemed confused,” he said. “He was in black clothes, like a ninja.”
Police were searching his car and residence. He was due to make a video court appearance later Sunday
Police have asked any potential witnesses to contact them.
“Quebec is waking up after a night of horror. Words fail me to describe such a tragedy. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault tweeted.
Carlos Godoy, who lives in the area, said police K-9 units had searched his backyard as they hunted for the suspect.
“It’s a full moon, it’s October 31st. It’s Halloween, and it’s a lockdown weekend. No one should be out on the streets,” Godoy said. “And I’m in an extremely quiet neighborhood because there are no tourists nowadays.”
The area around the Chateau Frontenac, the towering landmark of the walled old city, is usually bustling with tourists in normal times.