- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

MONTREAL — A masked gunman wearing a blue bathrobe opened fire during a midnight victory rally for Quebec’s new premier, killing one person and wounding another.

The new premier, Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois, was whisked off the stage by guards while giving her speech and was uninjured.

It was not clear whether the gunman was trying to shoot Ms. Marois, whose party favors separation for the French-speaking province from Canada.

Police identified the gunman only as a 62-year-old man, and were still questioning him Wednesday morning.

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said the gunman opened fire in the back of the hall while Ms. Marois was giving her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at the Metropolis auditorium.

She had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country when she was pulled off the stage.

“What’s going on?” Ms. Marois asked her security detail as they grabbed her arms and took her off the stage during the celebration of her party’s victory in Tuesday’s provincial election.

The gunman then fled outside, where he set a small fire before he was captured, police said.

Police said they didn’t know the gunman’s motive. As the suspect was being dragged toward the police cruiser, he was heard shouting in French, “The English are waking up!”

Ms. Marois returned to the stage after the shooting and asked the crowd to peacefully disperse and then seemed to finish her speech. She left the hall amid a tight cordon of provincial police bodyguards.

The attack shocked Canadians, who are not used to such violence at political events.

The suspect was a heavy-set man wearing a black ski or balaclava mask, glasses and a blue bathrobe over a black shirt and black shorts.

Police said he was from Quebec, but not Montreal. Police didn’t identify what weapons he had, but camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene.

Police said there is no reason to believe there are other suspects.

Police said a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and a 27-year-old man was wounded but would survive. A third man was treated for shock.

Police didn’t identify the victims, but they worked at production company Productions du Grand Bambou Inc., a person answering the phone at the Montreal company confirmed.

The crowd was apparently unaware of what happened when Ms. Marois was whisked off the stage.
Ms. Marois said her thoughts were with the family of the victim.

“Following this tragedy all Quebecois are mourning today before such a gratuitous act of violence,” she said in a statement issued early Wednesday. “Never will a society such as ours let violence dictate its collective choices.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said in a statement that he was “angered and saddened” by the shooting.

“It is a tragic day where an exercise of democracy is met with an act of violence,” Mr. Harper said. “This atrocious act will not be tolerated and such violence has no place in Canada.”

The separatist party won Tuesday’s provincial election, but failed to win the majority of legislative seats. Though the Parti Quebecois wants the province to break away from Canada, its victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum. Previous referendums on separatism were rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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