The small Quebec city of Shawinigan is in shock after a man was charged on Thursday with murdering three of his female relatives and attempting to kill his father.

Sylvain Duquette, 51, faces three counts of first degree murder. He is also charged with attempted murder with a firearm, unlawful confinement and an arson-related offence.

Crown prosecutor Vicky Belleville said the attempted murder charge relates to Duquette’s 80-year-old father Claude Duquette.

Belleville identified Duquette’s sister-in-law Denise Halle and his father’s wife Jocelyne Pellerin as two of the murder victims. The third victim is believed to be Halle’s cousin.

Duquette was arrested at a local gas station soon after the shootings, which police responded to late Wednesday. He appeared in court on Thursday and is due back on April 13.

Neighbours and friends said Duquette had been having financial problems. They said he had been living with his sister-in-law, but that she had asked him to leave.

A long message posted on Duquette’s Facebook page last Thursday indicated frustrations over money and an accusation that his father was unwilling to help.

Provincial police said on Thursday that two women had been found dead in a residence late Wednesday night and a third woman was found dead at a nearby home.

They said an 80-year-old man had suffered life-threatening injuries but fled and sought help. CTV Montreal reported that the suspect allegedly poured gasoline on the injured man and tried to light him on fire.

Surete du Quebec spokesperson Marc Tessier said that the suspect tried to light fires at both residences.

Police said the deceased women were 56, 61 and 70 years old. Police would not say how the women died or whether a weapon was used.

Francois-Philippe Champagne, the member of parliament for Shawinigan told reporters in Ottawa Thursday that his “thoughts” are with the family and friends of the victims.

“This is shocking for a small community like ours, so we’re looking to get more facts from the police authorities,” he said.

Quebec’s public security minister Martin Coiteux called the events “a terrible tragedy” and praised provincial police for their rapid response in arresting a suspect.

"Three people lost their lives, so first and foremost my condolences go out to the families of the victims," he said.

Quebec's minister for the status of women also offered her condolences.

"One woman who is the target of a murder like this is one woman too many," Lise Theriault said.

With a report from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin and files from CTV Montreal’s Rob Lurie and The Canadian Press