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Suspect charged in stabbing of priest during livestreamed Mass in Montreal

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An elderly rector of a church in Canada thanked supporters while leaving a hospital, after a man stabbed him during a televised Mass.

Posted: Mar. 25, 2019 7:10 AM
Updated: Mar. 25, 2019 7:10 AM

A 26-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon after allegedly stabbing the elderly rector of a church in Canada during a livestreamed Mass as shocked parishioners watched, Montreal police said.

The attack happened as the priest of St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal led Mass on Friday morning at the church in Montreal, police said.

Father Claude Grou, 77, was taken to a hospital and is recovering, Constable Caroline Chevrefils said.

Grou has "no resentment" toward the suspect and "hopes he gets all the support he needs and find peace," said Céline Barbeau, a spokeswoman for St Joseph's Oratory.

She said Grou was "in a very good place in his mind" and was standing, walking and talking.

"He is doing well," Barbeau said. "He needs to rest but he is very well surrounded by his people. He needs to get away for a little while. We hope he will be away for a few days or a week."

The suspect, Vlad Cristian Eremia, made his court appearance by video feed Saturday.

Police said the stabbing was not considered a terrorist attack and described it as "an isolated act committed by one individual."

Church security staff stopped the attack

The suspect was detained by security staff at the church and taken into custody by police, Chevrefils said. She said the suspect is known to police.

Grou was celebrating Mass for about 60 people in the church and the service was being livestreamed when the suspect went toward the priest and stabbed him several times with a sharp object, Chevrefils said.

Police were called to the church at 8:40 a.m. Video showed Grou moving away as the man approached, then falling and getting up after the attack. Parishioners separated the attacker from the priest.

"What a horrible attack at Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted. "Father Claude Grou, Canadians are thinking of you and wishing you a swift recovery."

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