JUSTIN BOURQUE, 24, SEEN WEARING MILITARY CAMOUFLAGE, WIELDING TWO GUNS
MONCTON, N.B. - The RCMP in New Brunswick say a man suspected to have killed three Mounties and injured two others in Moncton was spotted three times today but they were unable to apprehend him.
Supt. Marlene Snowman said officers were continuing to search for the shooter, more than 16 hours after a manhunt began. Snowman said the suspect is carrying high-powered firearms.
Heavily armed RCMP officers patrolled the small city overnight and into Thursday in the search for 24-year-old Justin Bourque, a Moncton man who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture of him released by police on Twitter.
Commanding Officer Roger Brown said the most recent sighting of the suspect was just after daylight Thursday and they were able to positively identify him.
Residents in the area where police are searching have been urged to stay inside their homes and lock their doors.
“Unfortunately, at this particular point in time, I don’t have all the answers to all the questions,” Brown told a news conference.
“This is working through your worst nightmare.”
Schools and government offices were closed, and city buses were pulled off the roads.
Brown said the two wounded officers underwent surgery in hospital Thursday and he met with the families of the officers who were shot. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
“As you can all imagine, they’re hurting,” said Brown. “There’s actually no way to describe the level of hurt.”
He did not release the names of the officers who were shot because police were still notifying relatives.
Late Wednesday, the RCMP in New Brunswick tweeted a photo of the suspect, who they said was armed and dangerous. They urged anyone with information on his whereabouts to call 911.
The two injured officers were being treated for wounds that the RCMP described as non life-threatening.
The RCMP released a map of a large portion of the northwest section of the city, including a heavily wooded area, where they wanted people to remain inside with their doors locked.
They warned people to expect roadblocks and traffic disruptions.
Schools and government offices were closed, and the city pulled its buses off the roads.
The RCMP have scheduled a news conference for 10:45 a.m. today to provide an update on the manhunt.
Const. Damien Theriault broke down in tears at a media briefing as he spoke of the deaths of his three colleagues late Wednesday night.
“We are professionals,” Theriault said. “We will ensure the security of the public. We are going to do that.”
He said police believed the suspect was at large in the Pinehurst subdivision area of the city early on Thursday morning. Police first responded at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, he said.
Daniel St. Louis, a commercial photographer in Moncton, was among the first on the scene Tuesday around 8:30 p.m. when he came across two police vehicles on different streets with blood visible inside.
He said no one was around, except for a few curious neighbours peeking through their front doors.
One of the vehicles, a marked police cruiser, was surrounded by shattered glass. The other, an unmarked SUV with its lights still on and the driver’s side door left open, had several bullet holes through its front windshield.
St. Louis said he saw something shortly after that will always haunt him.
“I walked over and I saw two feet, facing the street, toes up,” said St. Louis, 51. “I realized, ‘Oh my God. There’s somebody down.’ As I got close, I realized it was an officer and this is not a good situation.”
St. Louis said he doesn’t know what to make of the tragedy unfolding in the city of about 69,000.
“Our quiet little city, what is going on here?” he said. “How is this happening to us? It always happens to somebody else.”
Danny Leblanc, 42, said he saw the shooter in the distance Wednesday evening, wearing a camouflage outfit and standing in the middle of the street with a gun pointed at police cars.
The construction worker said he believed it was an RCMP officer until he heard a burst of automatic gunfire coming from the man’s gun.
“That guy was standing on the road afterwards and he was looking towards us,” he said.
He said he quickly retreated into his home with his family, adding a neighbour posted on social media that a kitchen window was shattered by gunfire.
Leblanc said few people on his normally quiet street were sleeping as they awaited word at midnight on whether arrests had been made.
“It’s just crazy,” he said.
The deaths of the three officers has shocked the city, he added.
“It’s devastating. I don’t know if he was on a hunt for them, or what.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those affected by the shootings.
“We also offer our prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured,” he said in a statement.
“This violent incident is a stark reminder that our men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line in Canada every day to protect our citizens and communities.
“The sacrifice of these brave officers will be honoured and remembered.”
Mayor George LeBlanc also offered his condolences to the families of the police officers who were killed and those who were injured.
“It is a terrible tragedy,” he said.
“We as a city must pull together as a family to support those who have suffered losses.”
Sean Gallacher, who lives near the area where police were concentrating their search, said he heard what he now believes were gunshots but initially thought his daughter had dropped some toys on the floor above him.
“I was downstairs and heard a few bangs,” said Gallacher, 35.
“I went to check but she hadn’t dropped anything. Then I heard the news and realized what it actually was.”
The RCMP confirmed the deaths of the three officers on Twitter at about 11 p.m.
More than 800 law enforcement officers have been killed in Canada since confederation. And, while the number of annual deaths has been declining steadily for years, these events show just how dangerous a job it can be. We have honoured the memory of those fallen officers as best we can here.
The shootings in Moncton also brought back memories of an RCMP tragedy in Mayerthorpe, Alta., on March 3, 2005, when Constables Anthony Fitzgerald Orion Gordon, Lionide (Leo) Nicholas Johnston, Brock Warren Myrol and Peter Christopher Schiemann were shot and killed.
Officials with the Horizon Health Network said the Moncton Hospital was treating two people who were listed in stable condition. The hospital was placed on Code Orange after the shootings to prepare it to handle multiple casualties as extra staff were brought in.
'He was just your average Joe,' says neighbour of man sought in killings - The Canadian Press
Justin Bourque: What we know about Moncton shooting suspect - CBC
Justin Bourque: Life of the party, ‘more into music and drinking than guns’ - The Gazette
PHOTO GALLERY: Police hunt for Justin Bourque in Moncton - Canada.com
VIDEO: Moncton Active Shooter News Conference - Youtube/CJAD800Montreal
VIDEO: Moncton resident shares his eye witness account of shooting - Globe and Mail
Manhunt in Moncton, N.B., after three RCMP officers shot and killed - The Canadian Press