The family of the alleged shooter in the Quebec City mosque attack say they are "living in fear."
Two days after the one year anniversary of the mosque shooting in Quebec City, the alleged shooter’s parents broke their silence in a letter sent to Radio-Canada.
Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette, parents of Alexandre Bissonnette who is currently in a detention centre in Quebec City awaiting his trial, said they felt they were “living a real nightmare.”
“Alexandre remains our beloved son and he will always be part of our family,” they wrote. “As any parent, we had hoped to see him succeed and be happy in life.”
They consider what happened on Jan. 29, 2017 “inexcusable” and “totally unexplainable.”
'We also lost a son'
Shortly after the Sunday evening prayers on that day, Alexandre Bissonnette allegedly shot and killed six men in an attack that also left 19 other people wounded at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, a mosque in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec’s capital.
"In a sense, we also lost a son," Bissonnette's parents continued in the letter.
Bissonnette who was a 27-year-old student at Université Laval from Quebec City is charged with six counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder. He will appear in court at the end of March this year.
In a phone interview with Radio-Canada, Bissonnette’s parents explained they wanted to wait for the mosque attack commemorations to be over before speaking out.
“We wanted to let the victims have all the room,” they said.
'Suffering and fear have taken over'
They explained that it was the airing of a documentary on the shooting on Radio-Canada last week on Jan. 25 that prompted them to speak out.
Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette say they and Alexandre’s twin brother are suffering and getting psychological support.
"For us also, suffering and fear have taken over," they wrote in the letter. "People have made serious threats against Alexandre and our family. Fortunately, the police have intervened, but we are still living in fear of it happening again."
In their interview with Radio-Canada, they said they were visiting their son at the detention centre once a week but weren’t sure they would attend his trial in March.
"So many lives were lost for no reason," they wrote in their letter. "Following the tragedy, we chose to keep our silence and to send our condolences in writing directly to the victims and their families."
They said they sent these personal wishes to the victims and families in a separate letter that was sent through Mohamed Labidi, the vice-president of the Islamic Cultural Centre.
"We'd like to thank all those who took the time to send us their support, parents, colleagues, friends, neighbours and even strangers," the parents wrote as they concluded their letter sent to Radio-Canada. "Their comforting words and gestures have given us courage and helps us carry on."