Martin Couture Rouleau ISIS Quebec
Police officers investigates an overturned vehicle in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Reuters

A Canadian man shot dead by police after running down two soldiers, killing one, with his car was a depressed conspiracy theorist, who had recently become influenced by radical Islam, according to friends and authorities.

Martin Couture Rouleau of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, was shot dead at the end of a high-speed police chase near Montreal.

He had struck two members of the Canadian Armed Forces with his car at a car park in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, about 26 miles (42km) southeast of Montreal, and then fled the scene.

One of the soldiers hit died of his injuries hours after the attack, while the other suffered from less serious wounds.

"It was a terrorist attack and Martin died like he wanted to," a close friend who preferred not to be named told The Star newspaper. "He wanted to be a martyr."

The friend suggested Rouleau carried out the attack in response to an appeal by the Isis (Islamic State) group for jihadi sympathisers across the world to launch 'lone wolf' attacks on westerners "wherever they can be found".

"He listened to what they [IS] had to say and he did his part here," the friend said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman David Falls said Rouleau was known to federal authorities that "were concerned that he had become radicalised". He ran a water-pressure cleaning company in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Neighbours said the 25-year-old converted to Islam just little over a year ago. He started wearing a tunic, sprouted a heavy beard and spent most of his time alone.

Another friend said he believed depression led Rouleau to retire into himself and obsessively turn to the internet for answers.

"It was weird. He was normal one day and then changed the next," said Jonathan Prince.

Local press reported the suspect extremist used several social media alias referring to his recent conversion to Islam, including Abu Ibrahim AlCanadi and Ahmad LeConverti [Ahmad the Convert]. He also held an account on Muslim networking site Ummaland.

Rouleau followed numerous Twitter accounts linked to jihad and IS, while his Facebook postings suggested he harboured anti-Semitic views and resentment towards US military operations in the Middle East.

The car chase following Rouleau's attack ended as he lost control of his vehicle, rolling over several times. Police shot him as he exited the car.

A large knife was found in the grass near the vehicle but Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet told reporters he could not say if the suspect was wielding it when he was gunned down.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the incident as "extremely troubling."

Canada has an active role in the US-led coalition fighting the Islamist group in Iraq and Syria.

The incident was reminiscent of the al-Qaida-inspired killing of a British soldier in London last year.

Fusilier Lee Rigby was ran over with a car and then hacked to death in the British capital by two home-grown Islamist radicals, Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 23.