It would have been a lot worse if the people in the church had not reacted so quickly.
It was shortly before noon on Friday at Canada’s largest Catholic Church, when someone interrupted the mass with a completely unprovoked and devastating act. And if it hadn’t been for the quick reaction of parishioners, things might have turned out much worse than they did.
Father Claude Grou was saying morning mass at Montreal’s famous Saint Joseph’s Oratory when the liturgy was interrupted by someone who had evil on his mind - And it was all in front of live television cameras.
The Lenten liturgy was being live streamed via the Catholic television network Sel+Lumiere TV, which airs the religious ceremony daily, when the attack occurred. So everything that happened was recorded and viewed by thousands of people.
There were approximately 60 worshippers in attendance when the assailant made his move. Witnesses say the suspect, dressed in a dark winter coat and light-colored baseball cap, ran up the aisle toward the altar where Father Claude Grou was standing.
The as-yet-unidentified assailant then pulled out “a large knife” and rushed the priest.
Father Grou tried to run away but the attacker knocked him to the ground before he could. That’s when the attacker appeared to begin stabbing the reverend.
“Following the stabbing, the suspect dropped the knife and stood up as members of the congregation ran towards him. Three men restrained the attacker while other people went to help Grou who appeared to stand up on his own.”
Police arrived shortly thereafter and took the 26-year-old unidentified man into custody.
Reports say that Father Grou is expected to recover from his injuries that consisted of stab wounds to the upper body.
Some people on social media are jumping to conclusions and declaring it an attack by Muslim extremists, but there have been no reports either verifying or refuting this assertion.
Witnesses present during the attack were shaken, yet some wished to speak to the press.
“Adele Plamondon was attending mass that morning and told CTV Montreal that she saw the attacker walk towards the altar.
“I thought he was going to kneel to say a prayer in front of the Saint Joseph’s statue, but he quickly came up the stairs taking a big knife out of his side and I realized what his intentions were so I ran out of the church screaming to alert the security,” she recalled.
Witness Philip Barrett told The Canadian Press that he was sitting near the front of the church when he saw the suspect rise from a pew and approach the sanctuary during the mass.
“I do remember the priest was moving away from the man but it happened so quickly there was almost no time to react,” he recalled.
Barrett said the suspect didn’t speak or call out during the attack and he didn’t struggle once he was subdued.
Political figures have finally reacted this afternoon.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau”
“What a horrible attack at Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal this morning. Father Claude Grou, Canadians are thinking of you and wishing you a swift recovery,” he said.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, too, expressed her reaction to the incident on Twitter.
“What a horrible and inexcusable gesture that has no place in Montreal. I am relieved to learn that the life of Father Claude Grou, Rector of the @osjmr, is out of danger and that his condition is stable. On behalf of all Montrealers, I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Mainstream Media is largely ignoring the attack and had the video quickly removed. If you’d like to view the harrowing incident, watch the video, below - if it isn’t removed before you get a chance to watch.