One dead in shooting at PQ headquarters
MONTREAL - An attack at a victory speech by Quebec's premier-in-waiting saw two people shot, with one of them killed, while a fire was set outside the building where she was speaking.
Guards whisked Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium.
"What's going on?'' the newly elected Marois told her security detail as they pulled her off the stage. She later returned to the podium and completed her speech, before the building was evacuated.
Behind the building, police tackled a masked and housecoat-wearing suspect to the ground, and took him away in a patrol car.
Local authorities said two people were shot and were in critical condition. They later announced one person had died.
The scantily clad suspect, a man in his 50s, shouted in French at the TV cameras while being dragged toward the police cruiser: "The English are waking up!''
Marois reassures anglos...in English
Just before the shooting, Marois took the rare step for a PQ leader of speaking English at a partisan event. Marois reassured anglophones that their rights would be protected, following a campaign that featured heated debates about new language laws.
Amid the confusion, a PQ spokesman asked the crowd to leave while Marois was taken from the stage and the crowd milled about in a daze.
The premier-elect soon reappeared and finished her speech but security hovered nearby, with one man talking constantly into a wrist microphone.
The crowd cleared out afterward, passing by Montreal police who lined the lobby and appeared at the back of the hall. Marois was escorted from the building in a tight cordon of provincial police bodyguards.
It's unclear how close the shooter got to the stage. Police said the attack occurred in the rear entrance to the buidling.
A fire truck was parked on the street and firemen entered as police put up orange crime scene tape across one corner of the stage leading to an exit.
An acrid smell of smoke hung heavily in the bar as media collected their equipment while other police officers moved around
the stage and talked to the hall's own security guards.
The attack occurred at the Metropolis, not far from the busy intersection of Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine. The club is one of the best-known music venues in the city and regularly plays host to popular groups.
Montreal police spokesman Danny Richer originally said the man was able to enter the building but he was not sure how close he got to the new premier.
Police later said it was unclear whether he got into the building.
Police did not confirm what kind of weapon was used, but TV images appeared to show a long gun being confiscated.
Story draws worldwide attention
Media outlets ranging from the BBC, to France's Le Figaro, to Al Jazeera quickly picked up the story
"One shot dead at victory speech of Canadian politician,'' said a headline at the top of CNN's website beside news about the opening of the U.S. Democratic Convention.
"Gunfire at Election Party in Quebec,'' read another report in the New York Times.
Atop the BBC's website was a photo of Marois and the headline: "Shooting mars Quebec leader's win.''
Photo: Olivier Pontbriand (La Presse)