MONTREAL — The suspect in a deadly shooting at a rally following the election of Quebec's new separatist premier is being sent for a psychiatric evaluation after he launched a courtroom rant about being sent on a mission by Jesus Christ to rid the province of its "separatist problem."
Richard Henry Bain appeared briefly in court on Friday. Bain is accused of opening fire outside a Sept. 4 victory rally for Pauline Marois of the Parti Quebecois. The shooting killed stage hand Denis Blanchette, 48, and wounded a 27-year-old stage hand just outside a Montreal theater. The masked gunman, wearing a bathrobe, was shown on television ranting and shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away after the shooting.
The fishing-lodge owner faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder, arson and weapons charges.
Bain ignored repeated requests from Quebec court Judge Robert Marchi on Friday to stop veering off-topic and just focus on the question from his lawyer: Do you understand why you are here?
"I'm a Christian soldier and ... we will never surrender to fight the evil separatists," Bain said. "I fight for freedom, democracy, justice and to speak one's mother's tongue."
Bain started his rant by saying he wanted to recognize what he called a holy day of remembrance – the Dec. 7 anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. After he made several comments about Jesus sending him on a mission, Marchi agreed an assessment was necessary to determine whether he is unfit to stand trial.
Bain's legal-aid attorney, Elfriede Duclervil, told reporters it has been impossible to prepare a defense for him.
"He's not able to give us any rational information to work on his defense, he's unable to make sensible, wise decisions after being advised by counsel," Duclervil said. Bain will return to court on Dec. 17.
Premier Pauline Marois told a television show earlier this week she believes she may have been an assassination target. Marois, who was whisked off the stage by guards and was not injured, had previously called the shooting an isolated event and said it was probably a case of a person who has "serious health issues."
The attack shocked Canadians, who are not used to such violence at political events and have long worried that gun violence more often seen in the U.S. could become more common in their country. The separatist Parti Quebecois party's victory didn't signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum. Previous referendums on separatism in the French-speaking province were rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995.