Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Montreal early on Sunday morning, Quebec Police Chief Robert Pigeon said at a news conference. Carl Girouard appeared in a Quebec court via video and was charged with two counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, according to broadcaster Radio-Canada.
"Dressed in medieval costume and armed with a Japanese sword, everything leads us to believe he chose his victims at random," Pigeon said, adding that preliminary information indicated the man was not affiliated with any terror group.
Pigeon said the suspect had come prepared to inflict as much damage as possible but did not elaborate. Quebec newspaper Le Soleil said the suspect had gasoline containers in his car. Pigeon declined to comment on the report.
The incident began late Saturday night, on Halloween, inside the city's historic walled center. Police told nearby residents to stay indoors and made an arrest after a near three-hour manhunt when port security found the suspect, lying barefoot on the ground.
With the city under partial lockdown due to the pandemic, there were few people on the streets, limiting the potential damage, police said.
"It is once again, and we believe, an isolated act," Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume told reporters. "We need to have a societal debate on the subject (of mental health) because it is becoming more and more difficult to manage."
In 2017, a Canadian man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque and was later sentenced to life in prison.
Quebec's police chief said on Sunday that the suspect had spoken of conducting an attack during a medical examination five years ago but was not known to police and did not have a criminal record.The victims were identified as hairdresser Suzanne Clermont, 61, and François Duchesne, 56, a museum communications director.