A man opened fire inside a venue during a victory speech by Quebec’s new premier late on Tuesday night, killing one person, police said.
A second person suffered non-life threatening injuries in the attack, said Montreal police Commander Ian LaFreniere. “We cannot rule out the fact that the premier was the target at this event,” he said.
Pauline Marois, who will be the first female premier of Quebec after her center-left party won provincial elections, was rushed off stage when gunfire rang out around midnight Tuesday, police said. Marois was not harmed.
“We know the suspect had more than one gun when it happened,” Lafreniere said. “Then he went out and set a fire at the door. The fire was extinguished by some police officers who were there.”
Police arrested a suspect, believed to be in his 60s. They recovered two weapons. As the man was dragged toward the police cruiser, he shouted in French, “The English are waking up!”
The suspect appeared to be wearing a bathrobe or housecoat. Police said the shooting took place in the back of the Metropolis concert venue.
Minutes after Marois was hurried off stage by her security team, the 63-year-old returned to thank her supporters and asked the crowd to calmly leave the room.
Marois, leader of the Parti Quebecois, defeated the incumbent Liberal party. Her party wants the French-speaking province to secede from Canada and become its own country.
Quebecers first elected a separatist government in 1976, and since that time the province has battled with the English-speaking majority of the rest of Canada over Quebec’s position in the country.
During her victory speech, Marois told anglophone Quebecers that their rights would be respected. “We share the same history, and I want us to shape together our future,” she said in English.
Wednesday morning, police searched the suspect’s vans and completed interviews with 15 witnesses, LaFreniere said. They were yet to talk to the suspect and do not know the motive for the attack.