(CBS) — A man dressed in medieval clothing and armed with a Japanese sword was arrested Sunday on suspicion of killing two people and injuring five others on Halloween near the historic Château Frontenac hotel in Quebec City. Quebec police said their initial information indicates the 24-year-old suspect’s motive was personal and not terrorism.
“Yesterday evening we were plunged into a night of horror when a 24-year-old man, who does not live in Quebec, came with the intention of claiming as many victims as possible,” Quebec City police chief Robert Pigeon told reporters.
Pigeon said the suspect made a threat of violence in 2014.
“That information would have been revealed in a medical context over five years ago. It was not something that was in a criminal record,” Pigeon said.
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume said Canada needs to have a debate about how to deal with mental illness.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter: “My heart breaks for the loved ones of the two killed in last night’s horrific attack in Quebec City.”
Police had earlier warned residents to remain indoors as they hunted for the man in the costume with a bladed weapon. They later described the weapon as a katana.
Police were first notified of the stabbings near the National Assembly shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
The five injured victims were taken to a hospital. “Some have very significant lacerations but we do not fear for their lives,” Pigeon said.
Pigeon said the suspect is from the Montreal area. Police were searching his car and residence. He was due to make a video court appearance later Sunday.
Police have asked any potential witnesses to contact them. A video posted to social media by Jordan Proust shows multiple police vehicles responding to the incident.
“Quebec is waking up after a night of horror. Words fail me to describe such a tragedy. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault tweeted.
Police declined to give any information about the two people who were killed.
According to three witnesses quoted by Quebec newspaper Le Soleil, the attacker allegedly “slit the throat” of his first victim near the Chateau Frontenac hotel, and there was “a lot of blood.”
The man then continued on Rue des Remparts, where the second person was killed, before heading to the Old Port, wounding the other victims, according to the newspaper.
Quebec resident Karin Lacoste said she was going to a convenience store to do some shopping around 11 pm when she saw several armed police officers wearing bulletproof vests.
“There was one who told me ‘run to your home because there is someone walking around, he is a killer and he has killed people,'” she told LCN news channel. “I was really scared.”
Carlos Godoy, who lives in the area, said police K-9 units had searched his backyard as they hunted for the suspect.
“It’s a full moon, it’s October 31st. It’s Halloween, and it’s a lockdown weekend. No one should be out on the streets,” Godoy said. “And I’m in an extremely quiet neighborhood because there are no tourists nowadays.”
The area around the Chateau Frontenac, the towering landmark of the walled old city, is usually bustling with tourists in normal times.