Quebec City mosque had plans to boost security before attack
'Succession' of incidents prior to fatal shooting led members to seek heightened measures
The mosque in Quebec City where six men were killed and 19 others were injured earlier this week had approved plans to strengthen its security measures just two weeks before the fatal attack, the fifth estate has found.
The plan was approved after police were called to the mosque on at least seven occasions before the shooting to respond to threats or vandalism that occurred.
"Tension was growing," Mohamed Labidi, former president of the mosque, told the fifth estate.
- Watch the fifth estate: "Under Attack: Murder in the Mosque"
Six men died in the shooting during evening prayers Sunday night at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (Islamic cultural centre of Quebec). Nineteen people were wounded.
Alexandre Bissonnette, the 27-year-old accused of opening fire on the mosque, is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm.
Labidi told the fifth estate that members of the mosque expressed concerns after several incidents that occurred before the shooting on Sunday.
"Two weeks ago we just finalized plans to fortify our mosque," Labidi said.
He said the plans included adding a secured door in the front and an escape door in the back.
Members of the mosque consulted with an architect and approved the plans in mid-January.
"We talked about doing that because of the many acts on the mosque in succession, like graffiti on the walls … the pig's head and now murder," Labidi said.
The advanced security measures are to be implemented by the beginning of June, just before Ramadan.
The previous incidents also prompted the mosque to install additional security cameras.
"At each [previous incident] we had one or two cameras and now we have eight," Labidi told the fifth estate.
'Recognize our friends'
New details are emerging from witnesses who were inside the mosque when the shooting occurred.
Ahmed El Refai, who lives nearby, had just left the mosque before the attack began.
"I found the ambulance and the police cars and the whole crime had been committed, and I started shooting live on Facebook," he told the fifth estate.
"We didn't know at that point what was going on until we [saw] the stretchers coming out of the main entrance of the mosque with people wounded, injured and people maybe dead."
He said they started to recognize friends and he called out to one.
"I started shouting at him just to support him and he looked at me."
With files from Lisa Ellenwood, Lynette Fortune and Andrew Culbert