Two people are dead and five others have been injured in a stabbing rampage in Quebec City Saturday night.
Speaking at a press conference Sunday morning, the chief of the Quebec City police department Robert Pigeon, said a 24-year-old man was arrested just before 1 a.m. ET.
The suspect appeared in court via video conference later on Sunday and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.
The suspect has been identified as Carl Girouard from Sainte-Thérèse, north of Montreal.
According to Pigeon, Girouard has no known links to terrorist groups and police believe his motive was personal in nature.
Authorities say he intended to harm as many people as possible.
Pigeon said the attack was premeditated but the victims appeared to have been chosen at random. The coroner has identified the two people killed as François Duchesne, 56, and Suzanne Clermont, 61, both residents of Quebec City.
Officials say the lives of the five other victims are not in danger. They did not offer any more specific information about their conditions but said that they suffered “serious lacerations.”
Pigeon said the five other victims are locals as well. Two are French nationals who live in the city.
“Our thoughts are with the family of the people who died today,” said police spokesman Etienne Doyon.
Police did not speculate on a possible motive for the attack. Doyon said he could not immediately confirm if Girouard was known to police, or whether more than one person may have been involved in the attack.
“Nothing is impossible,” he said. “But for now, we’re happy to have arrested a suspect and the investigation is ongoing.”
Girouard’s Sainte-Thérèse apartment building concierge told Global News on Sunday that in her experience the suspect was always kind and respectful. She said his brother lived in the same building as he did.
Police had earlier warned residents to remain indoors as they hunted for a man dressed in medieval clothing and armed with a sword who they said had left “multiple victims.”
Doyon said police were first notified of the stabbings near the national assembly in Quebec City’s downtown core shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The attack went on for nearly two and a half hours as police pursued the man on foot.
Carlos Godoy, who lives in the area, said police K-9 units had searched his backyard as they hunted for the suspect.
“It was really erratic, very abnormal for the neighbourhood,” he said.
“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 neighbourhood because there are no tourists nowadays.”
Police had asked area residents to remain indoors as they continued their investigation.
Quebec’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault said she is “devastated,” but added that she was relieved to hear a suspect is in custody.
In a tweet Sunday morning, Quebec Premier François Legault offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
“Quebec is waking up after a night of horror,” he wrote in French. “Words fail to describe such a tragedy.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his “heart breaks for the loved ones of the two people killed in last night’s horrific attack in Quebec City.”
“I’m also wishing a full recovery to the injured,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’re keeping you in our thoughts and will be there for you.”
Trudeau also thanked first responders for their “critical work.”
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne called the news “terrible.”
“There are no words to express my sadness,” he wrote in a tweet. “I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.”
At a press conference on Sunday, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said that “mental health is the current biggest security challenge.”
Guilbault added that mental health-related incidents are what police forces are responding to more and more.
Labeaume called on all Quebecers who may need psychological support to call 211.
–With files from the Canadian Press