PQ-shooting suspect faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – The man accused in the deadly shooting at a Parti Quebecois gathering has appeared at the Montreal courthouse and been slapped with 16 criminal charges including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and arson.

The weapon used in the shooting was a legally registered long gun and was part of a broader arsenal of arms that were nearly all registered, authorities said outside the courthouse.

The charges do not include any attempt on the life of premier-designate Pauline Marois. However, prosecuting attorneys said additional charges could be added to the current list. The shooting interrupted the election victory speech she was delivering.

Suspect Richard Henry Bain appeared in person Thursday to face the charges in a high-security courtroom behind protective glass.

He appeared calm and alert, wearing a white T-shirt to his court appearance.

He was represented by a legal-aid lawyer. She did not request a psychiatric evaluation for her client.

Bain’s case returns to court on Oct. 11.

Bain, who turns 62 this weekend, arrived at the courthouse in the back seat of a police vehicle as media waited outside.

The only images of him circulating so far had been from the turbulent scene outside the Metropolis club, after one man was killed and another was injured during a political celebration. An older photo of him standing next to Celine Dion has also been published in the local newspaper in Mont-Tremblant, Que., where he lives.

Little else is known about the fishing-camp owner and what possible motivations police might have identified for the shooting on election night.

A man burst into the back of the club and shot two people, killing a stage technician. A work colleague says the victim, Denis Blanchette, was working for $15 an hour and had replaced her earlier in the day because she wanted to vote and pick up her daughter at school.

Police say the suspect then lit a fire in back of the club before he was tackled to the ground. Several weapons were confiscated — including the long gun allegedly used in the shooting. As he was being whisked to the police vehicle Bain shouted, “The English have awoken.”

There has been some finger-pointing since the tragedy. Some opponents of the PQ have blamed it for stoking linguistic anger. Some of its supporters, conversely, have blamed Anglo media for stirring up anti-PQ hatred. Some have used the case as an argument for stricter gun control.

However, the overwhelming reaction — from politicians, public personalities, and a friend of Blanchette’s who spoke at a vigil in Montreal last night — has been a call for unity and for avoiding the temptation to draw political lessons from the tragedy.

Prosecuting lawyers said that police seized five weapons at the scene and 17 others at Bain’s home. Every one of the weapons — 21 of 22 — were registered, the Crown said.