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Canadian Student Charged with Quebec City Mosque Shooting

  • VOA News

People attend a vigil in support of the Muslim community in Montreal, Quebec, Jan. 30, 2017.

Police in Quebec City have charged a French-Canadian university student with murder following a deadly attack on a mosque in the city.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, was charged Monday evening with six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder in the shooting, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned as a "terrorist attack on Muslims."

More than 50 people were at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center when the shooting erupted late Sunday. A police spokeswoman, Christine Coulombe, said the six victims ranged in age from 35 to about 70. Eight others were wounded in the attack, including five who are in critical condition.

WATCH: PM Justin Trudeau addresses Parliament

Motive for attack is unknown

A second person was detained by police as a suspect, but is now being considered a witness.

Police did not give a motive for the attack and it is not clear if anyone else was involved in the shooting.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superintendent Martin Plante said, “The investigation is a domestic investigation at this time.” He added police will gather more information and evidence, and then move forward.

Speaking to Parliament Monday, Trudeau said the victims were targeted simply because of their religion, and he told Muslims who live in Canada, “We are with you.”

“Know that we value you. You enrich our shared country in immeasurable ways. It is your home,” he said.​

Quebec Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City, Canada
Quebec Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City, Canada

Trump offers support

U.S. President Donald Trump called Trudeau Monday to offer his condolences. Trudeau's office said Trump offered to provide any assistance needed.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters the Quebec shooting is “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to our nation's safety and security.”

Trump's administration has temporarily banned entry to refugees and people from seven countries identified by the administration as “sources of terror.”

Trudeau responded to that policy on Saturday by saying Canada would welcome refugees.

In June 2016, a pig's head was left on the doorstep of the same Quebec City mosque.

A woman becomes emotional during a vigil in support of the Muslim community in Montreal, Quebec, Jan. 30, 2017.
A woman becomes emotional during a vigil in support of the Muslim community in Montreal, Quebec, Jan. 30, 2017.

New York mayor provides extra protection

After Sunday's shooting, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said his police department is providing extra protection for mosques in the city.

“To my fellow New Yorkers who are Muslim: New York City will protect you. The NYPD will protect you. We will fight all hatred and bias,” he wrote on Twitter.

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