Accused Quebec gunman seen as eccentric, kilt-wearing lodge owner
By Leila Lemghalef ,Reuters
September 8, 2012, 12:03 am TWN
MONTREAL -- The gunman accused of opening fire outside a crowded political rally in Montreal this week was viewed as a kilt-wearing eccentric in his rural Quebec home, and was frustrated in his plans to expand his fishing lodge business, according to people who know him.
But local residents, in interviews with Reuters and other media, said they saw few clues of anything seriously amiss with Richard Henry Bain, 61, who appeared in a Montreal courtroom on Thursday to face 16 charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and arson.
"He seemed like a very normal person. A little marginal, maybe, a little eccentric because of the kilt. But he was a businessman and he had clients and business contacts. He spoke French very well, he seemed well settled here in the region," said Marie-France Brisson, the municipal director general in La Conception, Quebec, who handled Bain's frequent requests for permits to expand his fishing and horseback riding operation.
The shooting came as an election victory for the separatist Parti Quebecois in the French-speaking Canadian province highlighted tensions between Quebec's English-speaking minority and the PQ, which ultimately wants to break away from the rest of Canada but for now will try to toughen laws to ensure French remains Quebec's dominant language.
But it appears to be an isolated incident and was condemned by all sides.
Bain's brief court appearance was his first in public since television footage that showed police bundling him into a police car after two people were shot outside the rally after Tuesday's election.
He is accused of shooting one man dead and injuring another outside the theater where the PQ victory rally took place.
Television images have showed police removing an assault rifle from the suspect's hands on the night of the attack. Prosecutor Eliane Perreault said he was carrying two weapons, had five more in his car and more than 20 firearms in total. All but one were registered, she said.
Canada's gun laws are tougher than those in the United States, and Quebec gun owners must acquire permits and register their weapons with authorities.