Gunman in Quebec mosque shooting sentenced to life in prison

Posted at 4:32 PM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 18:42:31-05

A man who opened fire at a Quebec City mosque, killing six people in 2017, has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty last year to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in connection to the 2017 attack at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center.

Witnesses said Bissonnette stormed the mosque during evening prayers on a Sunday and began firing indiscriminately into the crowd of men, women and children.

Six worshippers were killed: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

During the sentencing hearing Friday, Superior Court Justice Francois Huot described the attack as a hate crime.

“His (Bissonnette’s) crimes were truly motivated by race, and a visceral hatred toward Muslim immigrants,” Huot said, according to CNN partner CBC.

Quebec prosecutors had asked that Bissonnette serve consecutive sentences for each charge, for a total of 150 years in prison without parole. The defense argued he should be eligible for parole after 25 years, CNN partner CTV reported.

Huot rejected the prosecutor’s request, saying it was “unreasonable,” and explained that a sentence of more than 50 years would be a cruel and unusual punishment, CTV reported.

Bissonnette will be 67 before he is eligible for parole.

During the sentencing phase, investigators said Bissonnette’s online activity showed he was fascinated by serial killers and the alt-right movement and was a fan of US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Bissonnette told an investigator that he carried out the attack after seeing reports that the Canadian government would welcome more refugees into the country.