Man accused in Quebec City mosque shooting changes lawyers

The man accused of carrying out a shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque two months ago made another brief appearance in court Thursday morning.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, faces six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm in connection with the attack, during which six men died and 19 others were wounded.

He appeared before Quebec Court Judge Jean-Louis Lemay to confirm he wanted to change lawyers.

Bissonnette was originally being represented by defence lawyer Jean Petit, who removed himself from the case. It is not known why.

Bissonnette will now be represented by lawyers from legal aid, Charles-Olivier Gosselin and Jean-Claude Gingras.

Community members still afraid

The increased security measures in place for his previous court appearances — requiring everyone going into the court to show identification and pass through metal detectors — were in effect again today.

Quebec City courthouse constables initially refused mosque president Mohamed Yangui entry to the hearing because he didn't bring identification, but was later allowed in.

He said he also has gone to police about three separate incidents he describes as suspicious. On three occasions, unfamiliar men came to the mosque asking for money, just as the accused shooter had before the Jan. 29 attack.

Back in court in May

The courtrooms were packed for Bissonnette's two previous court appearances, but fewer people showed up for Thursday's proceedings.

Bissonnette's lawyers asked that he not be required to attend his next court date, considering the logistics involved with getting him to and from the courthouse and that the hearing will be to discuss procedure.

The judge accepted the request. The case will be back in court May 29.