The tradition of celebrating Halloween dates back thousands of years to a time when it was not so much a celebration as it was a ritual to ward off ghosts. Now, in the 21st century, the day has become one of fun and adrenaline for children and teenagers throughout the world to dress up in costumes and collect candy door-to-door.
Though the threat of evil spirits is no longer so terrifying to our modern-day society, Halloween provides the opportunity for masked weapon-wielders to go unnoticed.
On Halloween night, a man dressed in a medieval costume complete with a samurai sword wandering the streets of Quebec, Canada, stabbing civilians, according to the New York Times. Two people were killed and five more were injured before police were contacted at approximately 10:30 p.m, according to ABC News.
At around 1 a.m. that night, the 24-year-old suspect was located and arrested, according to CBC News. It has been confirmed by the Quebec City police Chief Robert Pigeon that the man’s residence was located 155 miles from Quebec and that he had come “with the intention of doing the most damage possible,” according to CBC.
The man has not been linked to any terrorist organizations, and Quebec’s mayor Regis Labeaume has commented that “it’s difficult, almost impossible, to predict the consequences of the insanity here that’s visibly coming from mental health problems,” according to the New York Times.
Five years ago, the suspect allegedly made verbal threats of such an attack during a medical contact, although it was not placed on his criminal record, according to ABC News. The police were not aware of the comments until this weekend’s investigation, according to ABC.
The suspect has been charged with two cases of first-degree murder, according to CBC News. Motivations are still unclear, and Chief Pigeon stated in a briefing Sunday morning that “everything leads us to believe he chose his victims at random,” according to ABC News.
The victims were 56-year-old François Duchesne and 61-year-old Suzanne Clermont, both of whom were residents of Quebec City, according to ABC News.
Duchesne was the director of communications and marketing for the National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec, according to Quebec’s local newspaper, Le Soleil. Linda Tremblay, the spokesperson for the Museum told Le Soleil, “We are all in shock… [he was] a man with a big heart.” His family has opted to mourn privately.
Clermont had been a resident of Quebec for 25 years and was beloved by her entire neighborhood, according to le Journal de Quebec. Her neighbor and long-time friend Francine Matteau described her as “our Madam smile, our ray of sunshine. She was always in a good mood, she said hello to everyone because she knew everyone in the area,” according to the Journal.
“I do not understand how it could have happened in Quebec. Things like that don’t even happen in Montreal,” Another neighbor, Vicky Paradis, told the Journal.
Clermont’s family gathered at her residence Sunday morning to mourn.
“The horror that took place in Quebec City has left the entire city, the entire province in bereavement this morning following this terrible night,” Geneviève Guilbault, a member of Quebec’s National Assembly and Minister of Public Safety of the region of the crime scene, said according to the New York Times.
“This is a close-knit neighborhood, and we all know each other. It is shocking what happened, but we are happy it is over,” Resident Nicholas Lescarbeau said to the New York Times.
Justin Trudeau and François Legault, Quebec’s Prime Minister and premier, offered their condolences over Twitter to the family of the victims. Chief Pigeon expressed that “All the citizens of our city are in mourning,” according to CBC News.
May the city of Quebec and all of the families involved find peace and recovery from Saturday’s horrific tragedy.