Court hears 911 call: Quebec City mosque shooter asks if people are injured

A survivor of the Quebec mosque shooting had to leave the courtroom abruptly Thursday as the Crown presented photos of the scene taken in the hours that followed the attack.

Alexandre Bisonnette tells operator he planned on going into the woods to shoot himself

Police officers rush to a mosque after a shooting in Quebec City on Jan. 29, 2017. The shooter, Alexandre Bisonnette, called 911 about 15 minutes after the attack. (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

Shortly after shooting about a dozen people inside a Quebec City mosque, Alexandre Bissonnette called 911 and asked the operator, "I didn't hurt anyone earlier, did I?"

Bissonnette's voice echoed through a silent courtroom on Thursday afternoon, as a recording of the 911 call he placed on the evening of Jan 29., 2017, was played.

The Crown presented the phone call as a piece of evidence at the sentencing hearing for the 28-year-old, who pleaded guilty in Quebec Superior Court in March to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.

Alexandre Bissonnette's call to 911

4 years ago
Duration 1:20
Simon Labrecque, a 911 dispatcher, speaks to Alexandre Bissonnette in the minutes after Bissonnette shot and killed six people, and hurt several others, in a Quebec City mosque.
Bissonnette sounded confused and distraught on the 911 call, placed about 15 minutes after the shooting at the mosque.

As the operator tried to calm him down, Bissonnette asked several times if anyone was injured.

The operator kept Bissonnette on the line for 50 minutes and 28 seconds, asking him to stay calm and stay in his vehicle as police closed off the section of Highway 40 where he was parked, near the bridge to Île-d'Orléans about 20 kilometres from the mosque.

Bissonnette can be heard, crying at times, saying he "just wants it to be over," telling the operator he planned on going into the woods to shoot himself.

In an attempt to keep him calm, the 911 operator asks him several times about his personal life but Bissonnette discloses little information, saying he's just "sick of it," and wants the police to arrest him as quickly as possible.

The operator manages to keep Bissonnette on the line until police found him in a parked SUV, which belonged to his father.

3-hour interrogation

After his arrest, Bissonnette was interviewed by police the next morning.

The first 30 minutes of the three-hour interrogation video were screened inside the courtroom late Thursday afternoon.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, hours after his arrest on the night on Jan. 29, 2017. (Court exhibit)
It showed Bissonnette dressed in a white jumpsuit, sobbing throughout.

He refused to answer several questions from the investigator, saying, "I don't want to talk about it," and at one point saying, "I can't believe this is happening."

Bissonnette, at first, seemed unresponsive when the officer informed him he was being charged with six murders.

Several minutes later, Bissonnette said he remembered seeing a flash, then asked, "You said six murders? That can't be."

He also asked if his parents and brother were OK, saying he had a dream they were being attacked.

The rest of the video will be shown Friday morning, when sentencing arguments resume.

Crime scene photos shown

The semi-automatic rifle Bissonnette was carrying the night of the shooting jammed, preventing him from firing up to 30 bullets without reloading. (Court exhibit)
Earlier in the day, a survivor of the mosque shooting left the courtroom abruptly as the Crown began presenting photos taken of the scene in the hours that followed the attack.

The police photos were taken from inside and outside the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. 

Saïd Akjour, who was seriously wounded in the shooting, let out a cry and stepped out of the courtroom when Crown prosecutor François Godin explained how Akjour picked up empty magazines off the ground, in the small entranceway where Bissonnette had reloaded his weapon only moments prior.

​Widows of the victims gasped at the sight of the bullets from the .223-calibre rifle that Bissonnette could have fired into the crowd of 46 people, including four small children.

Bissonnette was holding the semi-automatic weapon as he approached the mosque, but it jammed when he tried to fire.

Four empty magazines, each with a capacity of 10 cartridges, were found inside the prayer room. Forty-eight shots were fired in total.

The rifle magazines Bissonnette had were illegal, because they could fire more than five rounds before having to reload, which is against federal law, the Crown said.

The Crown said the last magazine, found inside Bissonnette's 9-mm pistol located on the backseat of his car, was still holding two cartridges.

Two of the magazines found had the capacity to fire 30 rounds before having to be reloaded.

No photos of victims

Six men died in the attack on the Quebec Mosque. They are, clockwise from left, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, Aboubaker Thabti and Khaled Belkacemi. (CBC)
Out of respect for the victims and their families, the Crown did not show any photos of the deceased and avoided the more explicit images police gathered as evidence.
"There will be no photographs showing shocking images," Godin told the court at the beginning of the proceedings.

Some images nonetheless were distressing for the widows, who cried out as they saw the places where their husbands fell.

Other photos portrayed the small mihrab where people piled in, trying to seek refuge at the back of the room. 

The mihrab, a small semicircular niche in a mosque designed to identify the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, was no larger than 1.5 metres by three metres, the Crown said, offering limited shelter.

While Bissonnette avoided looking at most of the video surveillance footage shown in court yesterday, he appeared to follow today's presentations more closely.

The morning proceedings adjourned early when Bissonnette had to leave the courtroom as the Crown described the injuries he inflicted on his victims. His lawyer said he was feeling unwell.

The sentencing hearing is expected to last several weeks.