‘Ottawa’ Police Describe Bloody Scene After Quebec City Mosque Shooting
Evening prayers ended at 7:45 p.m. at Quebec City’s biggest mosque on Sunday, Jan. 29.
Nine minutes later, a 911 call: several shots fired at the Centre culturel Islamique de Québec; a man is on the ground. Within minutes, more calls to 911. A man is carrying a machine gun. Several dead.
Police officers who responded to the calls found a horrific scene.
The tense situation — police feared multiple shooters were involved – is described in an affidavit the Sûreté du Québec filed a day after the shooting to obtain a search warrant. Police wanted to look through a computer owned by alleged gunman Alexandre Bissonnette, who has since been charged with murder and attempted murder.
A heavily redacted version of the affidavit was made public Friday in response to a request from media outlets.
The document reveals that within about two minutes of the first call, three Quebec City police officers, in two squad cars, arrived at the mosque.
They saw two bodies on the floor near the mosque entrance – and a possible suspect.
Many details have been removed, but the document indicates at least one officer pulled out his gun and yelled “Police – freeze.” A brief chase ensued and the suspect was ordered to raise his hands.
Mohamed Belkhadir was arrested that night when police mistook him for a suspect. Belkhadir, who had been praying earlier, told reporters he fled when he saw someone with a firearm. He thought it was the shooter; in fact, it was a police officer. The next day, police released Belkhadir.
As officers made the arrest, other patrol cars arrived.
At the mosque, a two-storey structure that once housed a bank, an officer cautiously entered, his gun drawn; he didn’t know if a gunman was inside.
“Several people are standing, sitting or lying on the ground,” the affidavit said. “He sees injured people and a lot of blood.” Four men are dead. Another three are bleeding in the prayer room that takes up most of the first floor.
Officers stepped over bodies and pools of blood as they searched the building.
Two men were found hiding on the first floor, including one who had been shot in the leg and was bleeding profusely. “A tourniquet is placed on the victim’s leg,” the affidavit said. “He has lost a lot of blood and is feeling cold.”
In the end, six men died in the attack. Another five were seriously injured.
The affidavit said police have reviewed video surveillance footage from the mosque’s security system but a description of what is shown was removed from the document.
Bissonnette called police after the shooting and was arrested around 9 p.m. about 20 kilometres from the mosque.
The day after the attack, police spoke to Bissonnette’s father, Raymond Bissonnette, who told them where they could find his son’s personal computer, the affidavit said.