Fredericton parade 'a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief': mayor

A resident views the makeshift tribute outside the police station in Fredericton on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. Two city police officers were among four people who died in a shooting in a residential area on the city's north side.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

FREDERICTON - Two days after four people were killed in a quiet New Brunswick neighbourhood, the Fredericton Pride parade is slated to take place Sunday, with the city's mayor saying "there's a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is slated to attend a Pride-related event and also meet with police officers and their families as he offers his condolences to the community.

Speaking at a news conference Saturday, Mayor Mike O'Brien said the parade is a way for Fredericton's residents to begin healing in the wake of the shooting that killed Bobbie Lee Wright, Donnie Robichaud, Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns at a north-side apartment complex.

"We'll be coming through, marching through the city in a celebration of diversity and culture and pride," said O'Brien.

"It's a way for our community to start rebuilding our faith in community and having a celebration."

Describing the victims as "husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, friends," the mayor said he knows the community will "heal together."

There has been an outpouring of grief in the small city, with residents stopping by the Fredericton Police Force's headquarters to drop off flowers, notes and teddy bears for the fallen officers.

The force's public information officer, Alycia Bartlett, said in a release Sunday morning that police would release details of funeral arrangements later in the day but there will be no "formal" media briefing on the probe. She also said the force would not be releasing photos of the suspect or the civilian victims.

After meeting privately with police officers in the morning Trudeau will lay flowers outside their headquarters in the afternoon, and then in the early evening attend what is described as a "Fredericton Pride social event" at a local pub.

 

In a written statement issued by Jackie Steeves, Costello's common-law partner, she described the 20-year police veteran as the most positive person she's ever met and said he always came home from work with "a smile on his face."

"My heart goes out to the other families who are also suffering from this tragedy," she wrote. "So many other officers and friends share in this loss and my heart breaks for each of you as it breaks for me."

A statement on behalf of Burns' family said the officer loved her job and "went to work each shift committed to serving this great community."

Both families have asked for privacy as they continue to grieve.

Meanwhile, friends of Robichaud and Wright have taken to social media to express their sorrow, and a GoFundMe campaign to benefit their families has already amassed thousands of dollars.

Robichaud, 42, had just begun dating Wright, 32, in August.

Ten children also lost a parent Friday morning — Burns was married with three kids, while Costello was a father of four and Robichaud had two teenage sons and an older daughter.

O'Brien said the city will be reaching out to residents in the Brookside Drive neighbourhood, where the deadly violence occurred.

"They were traumatized as well as the rest of the city," he said. "The police force and the city will be reaching out to them in the near future with some information about how we can come together as a community."

A team of volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross has helped arrange emergency lodging for 46 people displaced by the investigation. At least eight other people are staying with family or friends.

In a Facebook post, Fredericton Pride expressed condolences to the families of the victims, saying the parade will begin with a minute of silence.

"As we march we will do so in appreciation of our Chief of Police Leanne Fitch, the first responders, and all the officers who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep us safe," the post said.

Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, has been changed with four counts of first degree murder and is set to appear in court on Aug. 27.

Police did not say if the suspect and victims were known to each other and a motive is not yet known.

— By Alex Cooke in Halifax


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