One person was killed and another critically injured when a masked gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Parti Quebecois victory rally for Quebec’s incoming Premier, separatist Pauline Marois.
Marois, who is set to be Quebec’s first ever female Premier after defeating Jean Charest of the incumbent Liberal Party, was immediately rushed off stage by guards when the shooting began at Montreal’s Metropolis auditorium. She was unharmed.
She later returned to the stage to urge her supporters to disperse the auditorium peacefully.
Montreal Police Commander Ian Lafreniere revealed that the shooter is a 50-year-old man and that he opened fire in the back of the auditorium. Witnesses claim the shooter got within 25 feet of the stage before he was apprehended, according to the BBC.
Lafreniere told reporters: “We know the suspect had more than one gun when it happened. Then he went out and set a fire at the door. The fire was extinguished by some police officers who were there.”
Images from Canada’s RDI television showed the man, wearing a black face mask and black hood and holding a rifle, being subdued outside the auditorium by police.
The gunman’s motivations are as yet unknown. He was heard shouting “The English are waking up!” as he was pulled into a police car.
The BBC reports that Marois, had said, “We want a country and we will have it,” referencing the party’s hope for the predominantly French-speaking Quebec’s independence from Canada, when the shooting started.
In a statement issued early Wednesday, quoted by the Associated Press, Marois said: “Following this tragedy all Quebecois are mourning today before such a gratuitous act of violence.
“Never will a society such as ours let violence dictate its collective choices,” said Marois.