Laval daycare bus crash: What we know so far about the accused

The man arrested in a deadly bus crash at a Quebec daycare is currently detained in jail awaiting his next court date, according to Audrey Roy-Cloutier of the Crown prosecutor’s office.

What motivated the attack, which left two children dead and another six injured, is still unclear.

The accused is facing nine charges: two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and four counts of assault with a weapon causing bodily harm.

Here’s what we know about him so far:

Pierre Ny St-Amand, 51, is a Laval resident and has worked as a driver with the Laval transit corporation for the last 10 years. He lives in a house on a quiet suburban street about 10 kilometres south of the daycare. Several neighbours described the accused as a quiet, pleasant father of two girls.

A next-door neighbour of St-Amand’s said the man has been living there with his family for at least five years, and described him as quiet and always friendly – a good neighbour.

One man, Thanh-Ry Tran, told The Canadian Press his family got together with St-Amand’s family a few times a year, adding that their wives would sometimes help each other in picking up or dropping off children. He said St-Amand had never shown signs of distress.

Witnesses at the scene Wednesday described something different. They said the driver “wasn’t in his right mind” and “was in a different world” as he exited the city bus, moments after it rammed it into the daycare.

One man said that the accused was screaming unintelligibly, and tore off his clothes as four people subdued him before police placed him in handcuffs.

St-Amand was taken to Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, where a doctor treating him ordered a psychiatric evaluation to determine if the man poses a threat to himself or others.

The accused appeared by video conference Wednesday from his hospital bed. During the court appearance, he refused to speak, only nodding – but shortly after, he allegedly punched a police officer in the head as he was accompanying him back to his hospital room.

The judge did not order a mental health evaluation, according to Roy-Cloutier, because the accused was deemed mentally fit to undergo the hearing.

His next court appearance is on Feb. 17.

Roy-Cloutier said it’s possible a judge will order a psychiatric evaluation at a future hearing.

According to Laval police, there is no known link between the accused and the daycare.

“The motive remains incomprehensible still today,” Public Security Minister François Bonnardel told reporters in Quebec City Thursday.

“No one can predict this kind of event,” he added. “No one can predict that someone gets up in the morning, takes off with a bus and decides to hit a daycare with a bus.”

Lionel Carmant, the Quebec minister responsible for social services, said Thursday that St-Armand had not received mental health care, nor was he on a waiting list for mental health services with the local health authority, the CIUSSS de Laval. It’s so far unclear if he sought mental health services elsewhere.

Carmant said so far, there is no evidence to determine if he had a mental health disorder.

The social services minister said he wants to discuss creating a province-wide screening program that would help people seek care if they need it.

“We need to be able to have people who do not raise their hands for mental health problems or psychological distress,” he said. “We have to find a way to help them ask for help.”

– With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Montreal’s Max Harrold

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