Canadian officials insist man intentionally ran over pedestrians in random attack
A 38-year-old Canadian man is facing two charges of dangerous driving causing death and authorities said Tuesday they expect more charges, alleging he purposely drove into pedestrians chosen at random, including children, in an eastern Canada town, killing two men and injuring nine people.
Police declined to comment on a possible motive for the incident Monday afternoon in the Quebec province town of Amqui, about 350 kilometers northeast of Quebec City. A senior Canadian official ruled out terrorism.
Steeve Gagnon — a slim, bearded man wearing glasses and a grey T-shirt — did not speak in court Tuesday. His lawyer, Hugo Caissy, said his client understood the two charges against him and asked the judge to waive the requirement that a bail hearing be held within three days.
2 DEAD, 9 INJURED IN CANADA AFTER PICKUP TRUCK PLOWS INTO PEDESTRIANS
Prosecutor Simon Blanchette said more charges would undoubtedly follow once all the evidence is gathered.
The case returns to court April 5, and Gagnon will remain detained until then.
Police earlier said the accused would face murder charges in connection with the deaths, saying the suspect acted deliberately and with premeditation.
Quebec provincial police have said their investigation suggests the driver swerved from one side of the road to the other over a considerable distance to hit victims who appeared to be selected at random.
Sgt. Claude Doiron told reporters that police believed the crash was intentional but did not suggest a motive.
“We’re talking about pedestrians who were walking all along the (road), on both sides in fact, over a certain distance,” he said.
G?rald Charest, 65, and Jean Lafreni?re, 73, were killed.
Last month in Laval, Quebec, police said a city bus driver deliberately smashed into a daycare center, killing two children. Immediately after the bus plowed into the building, the driver stepped out of the bus, ripped his clothes off and started screaming, witnesses said.
“I feel terrible because it’s happening for the second time in a month,” Quebec Premier Fran?ois Legault said.
Legault said that “unfortunately it is happening everywhere in the world,” adding that there needs to be more support for mental health services. He also said people need to take action if they see someone around them who appears to be at risk.
Three of the injured were in critical condition, police said. The injured include two children — one under 1 year old and another about 3 — who were both seriously hurt but whose lives were not in danger, officials said..
A senior government official familiar with the matter said the incident was not terrorism or related to national security. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The town of Amqui closed schools Tuesday.
“We’re all trembling thinking about what happened,” Amqui Mayor Sylvie Blanchette said.
Several ambulances swarmed to the scene after the ramming took place about 3 p.m.
CANADIAN BUS CRASHES INTO DAYCARE CENTER NORTH OF MONTREAL LEAVING 2 CHILDREN DEAD, 6 HOSPITALIZED
David Morin, a local resident, said he couldn’t get the image of one of the victims out of his head.
“He was alive when I arrived, and when I went to see another person, I came back and he was dead,” he said.
Morin said residents ran to the aid of the victims in the moments that followed. He recalled sitting next to a woman dressed in pink, and asking her name as others helped the two young children.
Regional health authorities in the Lower St-Lawrence region confirmed six of the injured were transported by plane to a Quebec City hospital.
In 2021, a man used a pickup to kill four members of an immigrant family in London, Ontario, in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said was a hate crime directed at Muslims.
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In 2018, a man in a van rampaged through pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10 people. Alek Minassian was found guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Minassian, 28, told police he belonged to an online community of sexually frustrated men, some of whom have plotted attacks on people who have sex.