The Sûreté du Québec confirmed that two people were killed and nine others injured when a pick-up truck struck a group of pedestrians in Amqui, in the Gaspésie, on Monday afternoon.
Of the injured, three have life-threatening injuries, while the remaining six are “not in danger,” according to police.
The two fatalities are two men, one in his 60s and the other in his 70s, police said.
A 38-year-old man who turned himself to police, was arrested on suspicion of committing a fatal hit and run and homicide, said SQ spokesperson Hélène St-Pierre.
“The investigation suggests it was a deliberate act committed by the suspect,” St-Pierre explained.
She said, however, that a motive had yet to be established.
The Associated Press, citing a senior government official familiar with the matter, said the incident was not terrorism or national security related.
Global News has confirmed that information independently with a senior government source. The source spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The fatal collision happened in downtown Amqui Monday afternoon on St-Benoît Boulevard, also known as Route 132.
Police said the road, which cuts through the town, has sidewalks on either side.
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St-Pierre said the crash appears to be an isolated incident and there is no danger to the public.
Earlier, a spokesperson with the regional health authority, CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent, confirmed that a code orange was launched at the Amqui Hospital, shortly after the collision.
Guy Turmel was unable to say how many people were treated at the local hospital but said resources had been mobilized to deal with the incoming patients.
A code orange signalizes a major event or emergency resulting in multiple casualties. In Quebec, a code orange is called when six or more people are injured.
Turmel added that five patients were being transferred to other hospitals because they required specialized care. Three he said were taken to Quebec City, one to Rimouski and one to Montreal.
Turmel, citing privacy reasons, was unable to comment on any of the patients’ conditions.
A psychological support team was also dispatched to the scene with Turmel saying many people people who witnessed the event were in shock.
Turmel added that anyone needing psychological support can also call the provincial help line at 811 option 2.
Political reaction to Amqui crash
As news of an incident broke Monday afternoon, Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested a “serious accident” had taken place in Amqui.
Bonnardel added he was monitoring the situation and that teams were being deployed to the area. Bonnardel is also keeping in touch with MNA Pascal Bérubé, who left Quebec City to be in his riding.
Bérubé also took to Twitter and said he was troubled by what he had heard and noted the possibility of multiple injuries or deaths.
Premier François Legault offered his support to the people of Amqui after conferring with the city’s mayor and Bérubé.
As the evening wore on, reaction started pouring in from across the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his concern to those affected.
“My heart is with the people of Amqui, Quebec today. As we learn more about the tragic events that have taken place, I’m keeping everyone affected in my thoughts.”
Trudeau also had a special message for first responders.
“Thank you for acting quickly, courageously, and professionally.”
Federal Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino echoed the sentiment.
“I’m shocked and saddened by the awful events in Amqui this afternoon,” he wrote on Twitter.
“As we wait for more details, my thoughts are with all those affected by this horrific act of violence. Thank you to law enforcement and first responders for their tireless efforts.”
St-Benoît Boulvard was partially closed with alternating traffic in both directions to allow for the investigation.
— With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and The Associated Press