Six worshipers were killed and another 18 wounded on Sunday evening when a lone gunman entered a Quebec City, Canada, mosque and opened fire.
One suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, is in custody and was charged Monday with six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.
According to eyewitness accounts, the shooter entered the Grande Mosquée de Québec shortly after 7:30 p.m. and began shooting at approximately 50 worshipers inside the mosque. Bystanders reported Bissonette exited the building after he emptied his weapons.
Authorities say the suspect then drove to the Island of Orleans bridge and contacted police. Police units responding took him into custody and recovered one handgun and two automatic weapons at the scene.
Despite briefly detaining a second man in connection with the shooting, officials say they believe Bissonette acted alone.
Bissonette, 27, is a student at Laval University and is alleged to hold right-wing nationalist political views, but no motive for the attack has been established.
Expressing outrage with the incident, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the attack an “attack on Muslims.”
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge. Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Eastern Canada’s Muslim population has increased significantly in recent years as have Islamophobic incidents, which include an Ontario province mosque lit ablaze in 2015 and a central Quebec mosque defaced with pig’s blood in 2013.
Of the 18 injured Sunday, five remain in the hospital and 12 were released.
[The Telegraph] [South China Morning Post] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Reuters via Common Dreams]