Heavy security presence at funeral for Que. shooting victim
Published Monday, September 10, 2012 6:14AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 10, 2012 4:20PM EDT
A heavy police presence accompanied a rare civic funeral Monday for a 48-year-old man who died when gunfire erupted at an election night rally for the Parti Quebecois.
Denis Blanchette, a lighting technician, was standing in for a colleague last week when a gunman crashed the PQ victory rally at Metropolis concert hall in downtown Montreal.
Mourners at St-Donat Church in Montreal included Premier-elect Pauline Marois and both provincial politicians and federal cabinet ministers.
As guests arrived, a solo violinist played songs such as the Beatles’“Yesterday.”
In a eulogy, Blanchette’s friend, Denis Bourgault, echoed some eyewitness accounts that have suggested Blanchette deliberately blocked the shooter as he opened fire, potentially saving lives.
"You left through the big door, buddy -- true to yourself," Bourgault said.
"You thought about others, not yourself... Au revoir, my brother. I love you."
During his sermon, the priest asked mourners to pray for the other victim of the shooting, Dave Courage, who remains in hospital.
Prior to the service, police set up a security perimeter of nearly a full city block, and maintained a heavy presence both inside and outside the church.
Meanwhile, the flag at the National Assembly of Quebec is flying at half-mast.
The decision to have a civic memorial for Blanchette came about after a meeting between Marois and outgoing premier Jean Charest.
Civic funerals are usually held for public figures, or police officers who die in the line of duty. But the highly publicized death of Blanchette, a technician who made $15 an hour, has united and saddened Quebecers of all political stripes.
In an interview with CTV Montreal last weekend, Courage said he’s still shaken by his friend’s death.
“I can’t stop thinking of that. I keep hearing his little girl calling for him. That’s the worst for me,” he said in the Saturday interview.
Recalling the night of the shooting, Courage said he and a group of his colleagues were waiting to enter the building to begin work when he heard a gunshot.
The 62-year-old man charged in Blanchette’s death is facing 16 charges including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and arson. Richard Henry Bain, a fishing camp owner, did not enter a plea at a court appearance last week.
Court heard that Bain had two guns in his possession and three in his vehicle, while 17 others were at his home. All of the guns were registered, except for one.
Bain’s next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 11.
With files from The Canadian Press