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 excitement 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 quite so terrifying to our modern-day society, Halloween provides the opportunity for masked weapon-wielders to go unnoticed.
This past Saturday on Halloween night, a man dressed in a medieval costume, complete with a samurai sword, wandered the streets of Quebec, stabbing civilians. Two people were killed and five more were injured before police were contacted at approximately 10:30 p.m.
At around 1 a.m. that night, the 24-year-old suspect was located and arrested. 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.”
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.”
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. The police were not aware of the comments until this weekend’s investigation.
The suspect has been charged with two cases of first-degree murder. 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.”
The victims were 56-year-old François Duchesne and 61-year-old Suzanne Clermont, both of whom were residents of Quebec City.
Duchesne was the director of communications and marketing for the National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec. Linda Tremblay, the spokesperson for the Museum said, “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. 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.” Another neighbor, Vicky Paradis, commented, “I do not understand how it could have happened in Quebec. Things like that don’t even happen in Montreal.” 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,” said Geneviève Guilbault, a member of Quebec’s National Assembly and Minister of Public Safety of the region of the crime scene.
Resident Nicholas Lescarbeau said, “This is a close-knit neighborhood, and we all know each other. It is shocking what happened, but we are happy it is over.”
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.”
May the city of Quebec and all of the families involved find peace and recovery from Saturday’s horrific tragedy.