Alexandre Bissonnette, the man who killed six people in a shooting spree at a mosque in Quebec City last year, reportedly told police he was motivated by a fear of Muslim refugees coming to Canada following Donald Trump's first attempt at a travel ban in January of 2017.
Video of Bissonnette's police interrogation was shown at his sentencing hearing on Friday, according to the Globe and Mail. The 28-year-old pleaded guilty last month to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder related to the massacre on Jan. 29, 2017.
According to reporters attending the hearing, Bissonnette told police he had become obsessed with the threat of terrorism following attacks in Canada and several European countries. When he came to believe more refugees were headed to Canada, he said he feared they would kill him and his family.
"I needed to do something," Bissonnette told interrogators.
What finally pushed him over the edge, Bissonnette told police, was Canada's response to Trump's executive order calling for the suspension of the US refugee program and a travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries.
"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Jan. 28.
The tweet was widely interpreted as a rebuke to the Trump administration and a welcome to those who would've been impacted by the travel ban. When Bissonnette heard of Trudeau's tweet the following day, he said he feared the worst.
“I was watching TV and I learned that the Canadian government was going to take more refugees, you know, who couldn’t go to the United States, and they were coming here,” Bissonnette said, according to the Globe and Mail.
“I saw that and I like lost my mind. I don’t want us to become like Europe. I don’t want them to kill my parents, my family."
Later that day, Bissonnette would walk into the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City after evening prayers and open fire on worshippers, killing six and wounding many others. The maximum sentence he could face is 150 years.
Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B
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