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Mountie tearfully recalls N.B. massacre that killed three officers, wounded two

RCMP Const. Andrew Johnstone leaves the court house in Moncton, N.B. on Tuesday May 9, 2017. An RCMP officer teared up Tuesday as he recalled trying to perform CPR on a wounded colleague during the 2014 Moncton shooting rampage that left three Mounties dead.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward
May 10, 2017 - 6:00 AM

MONCTON, N.B. - An RCMP officer choked back tears Tuesday recalling how he tried to perform CPR on a wounded colleague as a gunman continued a shooting spree that left three Mounties dead and two others wounded.

"I was trying to save the life of a friend," Const. Andrew Johnstone told the RCMP's Labour Code trial in the June 2014 Moncton massacre.

Johnstone teared up as he testified coming upon a car with a smashed window and bullet holes. He said there was "complete silence" inside the car, and he walked up to find Const. David Ross shot in the head.

"Const. Ross was now shot. I was the last person to talk to him alive," Johnstone said.

Moncton provincial court heard that it was a warm summer evening, and people were outside enjoying the warm weather as Justin Bourque opened fire on police with a semi-automatic rifle in an attempt to inspire a rebellion against the government.

Johnstone was among multiple Moncton RCMP officers who responded to the scene in Moncton's northwest end.

The Labour Code charges against the RCMP allege it failed to provide members and supervisors with the appropriate information, instruction and training in an active-shooter event, and didn’t give members the appropriate equipment.

Johnstone said "something didn't feel right" as he and Const. Jay Doiron approached woods where a suspicious man with two long rifles and what appeared to be a crossbow had been seen.

Johnstone said he caught a glimpse of the suspect being chased by officers, but soon joined the effort to assist Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, who was dragged into a nearby garage with fatal gunshot wounds.

He told Judge Leslie Jackson he waited for fire crews and paramedics to arrive for what "felt like forever," but could have been minutes.

Johnstone said he didn't know where the shooter was or whether he was acting alone. He told court that he lives in the area, so he called his wife to let her know that "at that time, I was safe."

As police planned to set up a perimeter, Johnstone said he returned to his patrol car and unwrapped the new hard-body armour in the trunk.

"(I) caught my breath and realized what just happened," said Johnstone. "That was the first opportunity I had after that to put it on."

Johnstone said he later learned he had put on the hard-body armour "backwards," and that prior to the Bourque murders, no practical training about how to use the equipment.

He said he was off work for about two months after the incident. When he returned, Johnstone said he was sent for carbine rifle training, but had to excuse himself because the rapid gunfire was giving him "flashbacks" from that night.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Mark Ertel said an email was sent instructing officers to familiarize themselves with the equipment, but Johnstone said he didn't recall receiving that instruction.

"It's easy to look back and say, in a perfect scenario, anybody can put on any piece of equipment that they want to," Johnstone said. "Put somebody under stress that just saw two of their friends get shot and ... you don't remember."

Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version wrongly identified the officer with Const. Johnstone as Eric Dubois. Johnstone was in fact accompanied by Const. Jay Doiron.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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