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Police cordon off the rear outside an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

On Tuesday morning, as Quebec voters headed to the polls, Richard Henry Bain showed up at Claude David's auto garage in Labelle, north of Montreal.

The two briefly discussed the election – Mr. Bain wanted to know where his polling station was – and then Mr. Bain said he was heading into Montreal to visit an ailing sister-in-law.

He mentioned no other plans. But when Mr. David said he wouldn't be able to finish fixing the battery on Mr. Bain's Jeep by Thursday, Mr. Bain said it didn't matter. "It's no rush."

The next time Mr. David saw his neighbour, it was on the news.

That night, a man was arrested at the back of Montreal's Metropolis nightclub as Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois delivered her victory speech.

Montreal police say the suspect had shot one man dead and wounded another, then set fire to the building before he was caught. He was taken to Royal Victoria Hospital for medical tests. Police said Mr. Bain is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.

Acquaintances recognized Mr. Bain as they watched TV coverage of police handcuffing and taking away the balaclava-clad suspect, who yelled, "The English are waking up, the English are waking up."

As the province reeled in the wake of the fatal election night violence, these friends and colleagues said they had trouble matching the chain of events to the person they knew.

"He is someone who is sick but never, never violent," one associate said in a telephone interview, adding that Mr. Bain is "manic depressive." (Psychiatrists now refer to manic depression as bipolar disorder to distinguish it from clinical, or unipolar, depression, which tends not to include periods of mania.)

Marc-André Cyr had to watch the footage multiple times, he said, before he believed friends calling to tell him this was indeed Mr. Bain, whose Mont-Tremblant property is in the same valley as Mr. Cyr's campgrounds.

Past a chained gate and down a rutted dirt road, Mr. Bain – who turns 62 on Saturday – had carved out an isolated life for himself in the backwoods of the Laurentians.

The most visible sign to outsiders is an old military truck parked on the side of Highway 117, offering trips to his remote lakeside fishing camp. Mr. Bain was also co-owner of the Rivière Rouge ranch in nearby Labelle.

Mr. Bain had made himself known in the small towns around his home as a man affable in day-to-day social contacts but whose penchant for wearing kilts, stockpiling food and quoting from the Bible raised eyebrows in the community.

Located on leased Crown land, his rustic-looking fishing lodge offered trout angling, horseback tours and rides on his vintage M-35 "deuce-and-a-half" military truck.

The lodge had a helipad and Mr. Bain used it at least on one occasion, the associate said. "He arrived at our place by helicopter once, just to bring a bottle of wine."

That lodge is what got Mr. Bain excited, Mr. Cyr said. "He was a person with many projects."

Among those projects was a proposal to expand his business and gain exclusive fishing rights on his lake. Mr. Bain may have encountered resistance seeking town council's approval for the project. He earned a reputation among local officials as a persistent, hard-to-please resident who stubbornly tried to get zoning changes to expand his business.

La Conception Mayor Maurice Plouffe told Montreal's 98.5 FM radio that Mr. Bain was demanding but "he has never been someone who made me scared." Mr. Bain was no "angry anglo," the mayor added, but always made a point of speaking French in his dealings with town bureaucrats.

Mr. Plouffe added that Mr. Bain described himself as a federal Liberal and invited the mayor several times to attend party events. (Denis Joannette, executive director of the federal Liberals' Quebec wing, said Mr. Bain is not a party member but that events are open to the public.

Public financial documents show that Mr. Bain leases a 2007 GMC Yukon.

In the hours after the shooting, police searched a black Yukon SUV parked near the Metropolis. An orange gas canister could be seen among several objects officers took out of the car.

Ms. Marois was delivering her victory speech when bodyguards hustled her off the stage by her elbows. Backstage she saw a man who appeared to be injured, the PQ Leader recalled Wednesday.

"I saw a ball of fire through the opening of a door. It looked like a firebomb. The door was slammed shut, and police said the firemen were on the scene and that everything was under control," she said. She said later that she asked to finish her speech onstage because she was worried about the energetic crowd panicking. "I didn't know at this moment there was a man that had been killed."

But the carnage could have been worse: A police source told The Globe and Mail the suspect's assault rifle jammed after the initial shots were fired. Afterwards, the loading-dock door was slammed shut, keeping him out of the building.

With files from Rhéal Séguin and Celia Donnelly and AP

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