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Grief, shock as survivors of Quebec's mosque shooting share their stories

Last Updated Jan 31, 2017 at 10:29 am PDT


Politicians gather to stand in solidarity as Muslim-Canadians grasp with the mass shooting

Six Muslims killed, more than a dozen injured in Sunday's mass shooting in Quebec

QUEBEC CITY, QUE. (NEWS 1130) – Just two days after the shocking mass shooting that left six people dead in Quebec City, we are getting a better idea of the sheer terror those inside the mosque endured. Many of those who live near the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre which is located in a quiet neighbourhood, are still in a state of shock and disbelief.

CityNews Toronto Reporter Avery Haines is in Quebec and she spoke with a young girl whose father was inside the mosque during evening prayers. “To hear a young girl say the words of what her Dad experienced is chilling. That [the suspect] started opening fire on all the people as they were praying, that the men started piling up on top of each other, each one trying to protect the other.”

He called 911 and was lucky enough to survive. “Her Dad hid in the corner of the mosque and saw the guy unloading his magazine twice and the Dad finally called them and said he heard the police were coming and knew that he would be safe.”

Thousands, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a vigil last night in Quebec City, which is still trying to come to terms with the attack but are also unified in the wake of a national tragedy. Thousands of people attended the multi-faith vigil. Interim federal Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair were also in attendance.

Local vigil

Nearly 100 people gathered outside the oldest mosque in BC last night. People spilling into the streets at Vancouver’s Al-Masjid Al-Jamia mosque. Tears were shed as people tried to grasp the gravity of the situation.

Amar just moved to Canada from Pakistan and attended the vigil. He said he had intended to bring his young son to pray with him, but after Sunday’s massacre, he decided to make sure his son was safe at home. “I’m actually scared,” he says. “Even my father from back home messaged me saying, ‘Don’t go to the mosque to pray.'”

He adds that he’s still in shock because of the violence. “Those are my brothers. I cannot even begin to imagine what they would’ve gone through. They were in their place of worship where they were worshiping God. We all worship the same God and they just got fired [at]. It’s unbelievable.”

While some feel fear, others are happy with the outpouring of support they have felt from neighbours, friends and complete strangers.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer were also in attendance.

Standing on the front steps of the mosque, an emotional Palmer told the crowd that Vancouver was a safe place to live.

“I can tell you that no matter how long I’ve been in this business, there are certain things that still shake you to the core and that you never get used to, and you can never understand. The senseless violence that happened last night in a place of worship where innocent people were praying, in a place of safety, for such violence to occur is just absolutely intolerable — unspeakable,” says Palmer. “Canada and Vancouver are places of inclusion, places where we welcome people from all over the world. From different faiths, different religions, different countries, different backgrounds, we all move to this great country, to this great city and we live together in peace and harmony.”

Shock, sadness, disbelief

According to police and witnesses, a man entered the mosque and opened fire without warning during evening prayers, causing death, injury and panic. Six men were killed and 19 wounded. Two of the victims have been upgraded to stable condition, however, two remain in critical condition in a Quebec City hospital.

A handcuffed Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, made a brief court appearance Monday evening where he was arraigned on six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder. He wore a white jumpsuit and stared stared at his feet and fidgeted during the hearing.

Bissonnette is the grandson of a decorated Second World War veteran, according to the social media profile in his name. He was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on February 21st.

Police have not released any information on what they believe motivated Sunday’s shooting, which Prime Minister Trudeau has denounced as a terrorist act.