MONTREAL - A humble lighting technician was honoured in a civic funeral attended by people with fame and power, as churchgoers mourned his death in a shooting with political overtones.

The funeral of Denis Blanchette offered striking contrasts Monday.

On one side of the Montreal church sat premier-designate Pauline Marois and a number of notable politicians. On the other, weeping relatives and friends — some of them wearing casual work clothes, with one of the pallbearers wearing a backwards ballcap and sunglasses perched on top.

Blanchette, 48, was killed last week in an incident that made international news: a shooting at the Parti Quebecois' election-night party that police say might have been targeting Marois.

Two people were struck by a single bullet. Blanchette, a $15-an-hour technician who had filled in for a colleague's shift earlier in the day, was killed instantly.

denis blanchette
A photo of Denis Blanchette from a memorial page on Facebook.

In his eulogy a close friend suggested Blanchette's courage might have prevented a bigger bloodbath. Blanchette, a father of a young girl, was standing at the back of the nightclub when the gunman tried to enter the building.

Some witnesses have said Blanchette might have obstructed him.

"You left through the big door, buddy — true to yourself," his friend, Denis Bourgault, told the packed St-Donat church in the city's east end.

"You thought about others, not yourself... Au revoir, my brother. I love you."

After that eulogy, a note to Blanchette was tearfully read from the altar. It was from his step-grandson. It called Blanchette an exceptional grandfather and said that, even if he hadn't been gone long, he was already missed.

Hundreds more paid their respects to Blanchette, including several dozen provincial, federal and municipal politicians who filled pews near the front of the church. Former PQ premier Bernard Landry was among them.

Police officers in dark suits took positions throughout the building and a couple stood against the church's interior red-bricked wall, where they kept an eye on Marois. Police are investigating whether the suspect might have been trying to kill the premier-designate.

Outside the church, the heavy security was even more apparent as officers surveyed a large mass of people that had gathered on the street behind police tape.

In a gesture that seemed designed to send a political message, Marois strayed away from the church onto the edge of the crowd to shake hands with onlookers and pose for photos. Some people chanted nationalist slogans and waved flags.

"Vive le Quebec libre!" one man shouted as the pro-independence leader greeted people. Police, meanwhile, seemed on edge as they kept careful watch over her.

Marois, for her part, has downplayed any political significance to last week's shooting.

After Monday's funeral, she called on Quebecers to take note of Blanchette's sacrifice.

"I believe that we owe a lot to Denis Blanchette's family because we know that he probably saved us from a tragedy bigger than it was," Marois told reporters outside the church.

One man in the crowd, who was inside the nightclub for the PQ rally the night of the shooting, said he rushed to the church Monday when he heard about Blanchette's funeral.

"We had to be here today to thank this person who gave their life for everyone who was at the theatre," said Pierre Goulet, who waved a giant Quebec flag from a sidewalk outside the church.

Before and after the service, dozens of police officers were at the scene outside the church. A perimeter of nearly a full city block was erected outside the building.

Neither Prime Minister Stephen Harper nor outgoing premier Jean Charest were in attendance, but were represented by cabinet ministers.

In his sermon, the priest presiding over the Roman-Catholic mass asked everyone to pray for the other shooting victim, Dave Courage, who is recovering in hospital. He also asked churchgoers to pray for everyone impacted by the event which, he said, came in "a context of violence, of folly."

The priest, Joseph Dube, also appeared to make reference to the suspect in Blanchette's death, Richard Henry Bain. The 62-year-old man faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and arson.

"I invite you to bring into your heart someone for whom peace is necessary," Dube told the audience. "It could be somebody who is difficult for you to love, just as it could be somebody easy to love."

As guests entered the church, a violinist greeted them with sorrowful songs, including the Beatles' "Yesterday."

A framed photo of Blanchette was on a stand in front of the altar.

After the ceremony, red-eyed mourners followed the casket, which was still glistening with droplets of holy water, out of the church. Many of Blanchette's loved ones clutched single roses and wore a photo of him over their hearts.

Civic funerals are usually reserved for public figures as well as police officers slain in the line of duty.

The idea of honouring Blanchette came up last week when Marois and Charest met to discuss the transition of power.

The flag at the Quebec legislature was also flying at half-mast.

Bain next appears in court Oct. 11 to face the charges.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version suggested Blanchette and the injured man had been struck with different bullets.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Richard Henry Bain

    Richard Henry Bain arrives at court in Montreal on Thursday, Sept.6, 2012. Bain, 61, the suspect in a deadly shooting at a rally following the election of Quebec’s new separatist premier was arraigned Thursday on 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives. (AP Photo/Le Devoir via The Canadian Press, Jacques Nadeau) MONTREAL OUT

  • A gate blocks the entrance to Richard Henry Bain's fishing camp in La Conception, near Mont-Tremblant, Que. on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. Police sources confirmed they arrested a suspect by that name in the Montreal shooting that left one person dead and made headlines around the world.

  • A three-axle military truck sits near the entrance to Richard Henry Bain's fishing camp in La Conception, near Mont-Tremblant, Que. on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. Police sources confirmed they arrested a suspect by that name in the Montreal shooting that left one person dead and made headlines around the world.

  • Denis Blanchette, Pauline Marois, Ginette Jean

    Ginette Jean, mother of Denis Blanchette, reacts as she touches her son's casket during funeral services Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in Montreal. Blanchette was killed outside the Parti Quebecois election night rally last week. Richard Bain was arraigned Thursday, Sept. 6 on 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jocelyn Malette, Pool)

  • A man is arrested by police outside the Parti Quebecois victory rally in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. A masked gunman wearing a blue bathrobe opened fire during a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new premier, killing one person and wounding another. The new premier, Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois, was whisked off the stage by guards while giving her speech and uninjured. Police identified the gunman only as a 62-year-old man, and were still questioning him Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Montreal La Presse via The Canadian Press, Olivier Pontbriand)

  • A weapon is recovered at the scene of the shooting outside the Parti Quebecois' election victory party (RDI screen shot)

  • Fire burns outside Montreal's Métropolis concert hall shortly after the shooting. (QMI)

  • A man is arrested outside Montreal's Métropolis concert hall soon after shots were fired during PQ Leader Pauline Marois' victory speech. (QMI)

  • A police officer looks towards a black SUV that has had its contents removed on a crime scene outside the Metropolis in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

  • Police and fireman work at the rear of an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois takes the stage after winnnig the provincial election in Tuesday, Que. September 4, 2012. With the win, Marois becomes the first female premier in Quebec history. Moments later, she was rushed off the stage.

  • Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois is removed from the stage by SQ officers as she speaks to supporters in Montreal, Tuesday, September 4, 2012 following her election win. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

  • Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois is whisked off stage as she delivered her victory speech in Montreal, Que., Tuesday, September 4, 2012. With the win, Marois becomes the first female premier in Quebec history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • (RDI screenshot)

  • (RDI screenshot)

  • Police detail a person behind the Métropolis concert hall where Pauline Marois was making her victory speech (RDI screen shot)

  • Fire burns outside Montreal's Métropolis concert hall shortly after the shooting. (QMI)

  • Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois returns to complete her speech after being whisked off the stage by security as she delivered her victory speech in Montreal, Que., Tuesday, September 4, 2012. With the win, Marois becomes the first female premier in Quebec history.

  • 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. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Police and fireman work at the rear of an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • 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. Guards whisked PQ leader Pauline Marois off the stage as handlers informed the partisan crowd there had been an explosive noise and they needed to clear the auditorium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

  • Police work on a crime scene outside the Metropolis in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

  • A police officer looks towards a black SUV that has had its contents removed at a crime scene outside the Metropolis in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)