Four dead, in­clud­ing two po­lice of­fi­cers, in Fred­er­ic­ton shoot­ing

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - PA­TRICK WHITE VJOSA ISAI

I thought it was all over at that point. But when I looked out, the guy started shoot­ing again. It was hard to gauge where it was coming from. DAVID MACCOUBREY WITNESS

‘I hear more shots and looked out and there’s two po­lice of­fi­cers on the ground,’ says res­i­dent of Fred­er­ic­ton area where four peo­ple were slain

Two Fred­er­ic­ton po­lice of­fi­cers rush­ing to the aid of two slain civil­ians were shot and killed on Fri­day morn­ing, touch­ing off a lock­down and stand­off that par­a­lyzed a large swath of New Brunswick’s cap­i­tal city.

The deaths of Con­sta­bles Lawrence Robert Costello, 45, and Sara Mae He­len Burns, 43, marks the most lethal day for Cana­dian po­lice since June, 2014, when a lone gun­man shot five RCMP of­fi­cers, killing three, just 180 kilo­me­tres east in Monc­ton.

Au­thor­i­ties have yet to name the two civil­ian vic­tims or the al­leged shooter, only iden­ti­fy­ing him as a 48year-old man from Fred­er­ic­ton. Po­lice said he was in hos­pi­tal “un­der­go­ing treat­ment for se­ri­ous in­juries” as of Fri­day af­ter­noon.

A lo­cal hos­pi­tal re­ported treat­ing “mul­ti­ple vic­tims,” but of­fi­cials would not elab­o­rate on the num­ber of in­jured.

At an af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence, po­lice held back sig­nif­i­cant de­tails of the tragic nar­ra­tive that un­folded that morn­ing. But the scant de­scrip­tion they did pro­vide, com­bined with state­ments from neigh­bours, of­fers a rough out­line of events.

Res­i­dents and neigh­bours of a lowrise apart­ment com­plex on Brook­side Drive, in the city’s north end, said they heard a clus­ter of gun­shots around 7 a.m. One res­i­dent called the four-build­ing com­plex a “low-rent kind of place” that at­tracted the odd visit from po­lice, but never for any­thing as se­ri­ous as firearms.

“You get the odd do­mes­tic here,” David MacCoubrey said. “And some­one threw a big party a year or so ago. You never hear of any­thing as heinous as a guy shoot­ing up the place.”

Tim More­house said he was in his apart­ment when he heard some­one shout: “Shut up! Shut up!”

He said he heard two gun­shots, and then three more. He said he looked out his win­dow and saw the body of a man on the ground, in the back park­ing lot of 237 Brook­side Dr.

It was right around the time for a shift change when a “shots fired” call came into Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice, the 105of­fi­cer mu­nic­i­pal force that serves the city.

Con­sta­ble Costello, a 20-year vet­eran of the force, and Con­sta­ble Burns, who joined two years ago, “jumped in a cruiser and at­tended the scene,” said deputy chief Martin Gaudet at the news con­fer­ence. “They were the ini­tial of­fi­cers on scene.”

As they ar­rived on the scene, they saw two civil­ians on the ground and walked to­ward them. “That’s when they were shot,” deputy chief Gaudet said.

“I hear more shots and looked out and there’s two po­lice of­fi­cers on the ground,” Mr. More­house said. “I called 911 and they came and checked on them and they were shot,” he said.

The sec­ond burst of gun­fire sent res­i­dents and neigh­bours div­ing for cover. Across the street, Ber­nice Tucker thought it was aw­fully early for con­trac­tors to be fir­ing a nail gun, when she then heard loud knocks at her door. She opened it and five of­fi­cers told her to get dressed and fol­low them to safety. “As we were get­ting out my front door, there were a bunch more shots,” she said. “We had to duck down be­hind the wheel of the car to avoid them. One of­fi­cer had his gun out. It was quite the ex­pe­ri­ence.”

When the gun­fire let up, po­lice ush­ered her to a nearby home.

Through so­cial me­dia, the force warned res­i­dents to re­main in­side and lock their doors.

Back in­side the res­i­den­tial com­plex, Mr. MacCoubrey ducked down on his kitchen floor. When he got up and looked out his win­dow 20 min­utes later, he saw a Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice ar­moured ve­hi­cle out­side.

“I thought it was all over at that point,” he said. “But when I looked out, the guy started shoot­ing again. It was hard to gauge where it was coming from.”

Mr. MacCoubrey later posted a video on­line taken by a neigh­bour that ap­pears to show an of­fi­cer atop an ar­moured ve­hi­cle fir­ing gas can­is­ters into a sec­ond-floor win­dow.

Around 9:30 a.m., with the en­tire neigh­bour­hood in lock­down, of­fi­cers stormed the apart­ment where the al­leged shooter had hun­kered down and took the in­di­vid­ual into cus­tody.

Half-an-hour later, po­lice lifted the lock­down, leav­ing dis­ori­ented neigh­bours to process what they’d just ex­pe­ri­enced.

“I’m just mad,” Mr. MacCoubrey said. “I’m tired of this stupid vi­o­lence. There’s too much vi­o­lence, too many guns. We have to come up with a bet­ter so­lu­tion.”

As of Fri­day af­ter­noon, the RCMP had taken over the homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tion and were help­ing Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice with reg­u­lar calls for ser­vice across the city. Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice Chief Leanne Fitch also called in the Nova Sco­tia Se­ri­ous In­ci­dent Re­sponse Team, which in­ves­ti­gates all se­ri­ous in­ci­dents in­volv­ing po­lice ac­tions in that prov­ince, to probe the ac­tions of her of­fi­cers that morn­ing.

Other po­lice forces are pro­vid­ing shift re­lief to al­low some Fred­er­ic­ton of­fi­cers time away from ac­tive duty, Chief Fitch said.

Chief Fitch said she heard the in­ci­dent play out on her po­lice ra­dio as she was driv­ing home from Hal­i­fax early in the morn­ing. “In this dark time, I can say with cer­tainty that the cit­i­zens of Fred­er­ic­ton were be­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well-served. I couldn’t be prouder of the men and woman who serve the city.”

The tragedy brought an out­pour­ing of sym­pa­thy from dig­ni­taries across the coun­try. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau praised the two of­fi­cers and said Canadians would not for­get their ac­tions. “There is no greater ges­ture than to put one­self in harm’s way to pro­tect the life of an­other,” he said in a state­ment. “This morn­ing, first re­spon­ders rushed to the scene of dan­ger. They did not think twice about what they had to do to keep their fel­low Canadians safe.”

Fred­er­ic­ton Mayor Mike O’Brien said he had spo­ken to Mr. Trudeau and that the en­tire city was griev­ing over the deaths. “Pro­tect­ing us to­day, they gave their lives,” he said.

Even af­ter the po­lice-or­dered lock­down was lifted, the morn­ing’s shoot­ing chilled ac­tiv­ity around the city. The Har­vest Jazz and Blues Fes­ti­val − though sep­a­rated from the scene of the crime by the Saint John River − urged lo­cals not to go to the box-of­fice opening for next month’s event due to the shoot­ing. At lunchtime, down­town restau­rants were quiet.

Else­where across the coun­try, flags at other po­lice forces and gov­ern­ment build­ings were low­ered to half­mast in sol­i­dar­ity with the town.

Out­side Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice head­quar­ters, a makeshift me­mo­rial took shape as res­i­dents dropped flow­ers and notes of con­do­lence. One read sim­ply, “Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice Force, Your City Has Your Back.”


Fred­er­ic­ton Po­lice and RCMP of­fi­cers con­verge on an area where four peo­ple, in­clud­ing two po­lice con­sta­bles, were killed on Fri­day.


Shoot­ing in Fred­er­ic­ton

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