Suspect in deadly Quebec house fire awaiting extradition

Justin Bresaw, the man wanted in connection with a house fire and the deaths of three people in Amos, Que., has appeared in a U.S. court following his arrest in Florida.

Justin Bresaw faces charges including burglary and battery of a law-enforcement officer

Justin Bresaw will face three first-degree murder charges upon his return to Canada. (Leon County Sheriff's Office)

Justin Bresaw, the man wanted in connection with a house fire and the deaths of three people in Amos, Que., appeared in a U.S. court this morning to answer to a slew of charges.

The 35-year-old was arrested in Florida on Sunday. He faces charges in Florida including burglary, battery of a law-enforcement officer and resisting arrest, while in Canda he faces three counts of first-degree murder.

Lieutenant James McQuaig, a spokesperson with the Leon County Sheriff's Office, said Bresaw appeared in a Florida court Monday morning and was given $2,500 bail on the charges he faces in the U.S. Bresaw was also ordered to remain in custody of the U.S. Marshal, who will transport him from Florida back to Canada.

It is unclear when he will be extradited.

Christine Coulombe, a spokeswoman for Quebec provincial police, said Sunday the extradition process is underway to bring him back to Canada. That process could be held up by the charges Bresaw now faces in Florida.

"We don't how long it will take," Coulombe said.

Bresaw was on the run since September 17, when three bodies were found in a burned out house where he used to rent a room in the town of Amos in Quebec's Abitibi region, about 500 kilometres north of Montreal.

Officer Dave Northway of the Tallahassee Police Department said Bresaw was arrested at 4:30 a.m. after an altercation with a police officer.

Sergeant Sam Gereg found the suspect using a laptop computer behind a small church at around 1:30 a.m.

The suspect told Sgt. Gereg he was called "John Colman," but the officer thought the spelling was off and decided to run an identity check.

Bresaw then tried to run away from the officer but was held back.

"The man started to try to get away," Northway said. "He took a step or two. Sergeant Gereg got a hold of mister – he thought was Mr. Colman at this time but turned out to be Mr. Bresaw – and they got into... a very good, hard, long fight."

According to Northway, Bresaw said "you'll have to kill me" while he was fighting with Sgt. Gereg.

"Mr. Bresaw was trying to get a hold of Sgt. Gereg belt which has all of his weapons on it," Northway said.

Three-hour police hunt

Gereg fell during the fight, struck a metal post and broke his nose during the fight, Northway said, and Bresaw ran away.

Sgt. Gereg then called for back-up and with the help of a helicopter, other agencies and search dogs, found Bresaw three hours later hiding underneath a house.

Bresaw was taken into custody after suffering a bite from a police dog, Northway said.

After his arrest, police determined that Bresaw was wanted by Quebec authorities and by Interpol.

Bresaw is being held at the Leon County Sheriff's Office, where he is facing charges of resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence and being a fugitive.

Bresaw is suspected of having killed René Deschâtelets, Diane Duhaime and Jean-Guy Labelle before setting fire to the house they were in. He may face charges of first degree murder, along with arson, once he is extradited.

Authorities say Bresaw was spotted in the west Ottawa neighbourhood of Kanata North in mid-September before issuing a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.

Sûreté du Québec spokesman Const. Pierre Tremblay said Bresaw was seen near the Amos home before the fire started. He had been renting a room in the basement of the home in Amos prior to the fire.

Police had been on Bresaw's trail since last month.

On Sept. 20, three days after the fire, a stolen car allegedly driven by Bresaw was found in a wooded area near Havelock, Que. 

With files from the Canadian Press