Vic­tims had just started dat­ing

Times Colonist - - Fredericton Shootings -

FRED­ER­IC­TON — The new re­la­tion­ship had been an­nounced with a lit­tle blue heart posted on Face­book, but just days later a gun­man in an apart­ment win­dow brought it to a sud­den and vi­o­lent end.

For close friends and rel­a­tives of Bob­bie Lee Wright, 32, and Don­ald Adam Ro­bichaud, 42, the shoot­ing deaths came as a stun­ning blow, end­ing the lives of two quiet peo­ple pre­par­ing for an out­door ad­ven­ture to­gether.

“They were go­ing to go zip lin­ing af­ter work. They were pack­ing up the car be­fore work and that’s when they got shot,” said Melissa Ro­bichaud, Don­ald’s wife, from whom he had re­cently sep­a­rated.

Soon af­ter, two of­fi­cers from the Fred­er­ic­ton po­lice force were also gunned down as they re­sponded to the shots be­ing fired in the north end of Fred­er­ic­ton.

“All four of those peo­ple were loved, very loved,” Ro­bichaud said.

The 36-year-old res­i­dent of Traceyville, N.B., said she had been with her hus­band for 22 years. Don­ald Ro­bichaud had two teenaged sons, Zakkery and Draiden, and a daugh­ter, Chloe, and is sur­vived by his mother Jean, she said. The chil­dren’s names were tat­tooed on his neck.

“He was a good man,” said Ro­bichaud, adding that he’d worked hard as a com­mer­cial painter and later as an au­to­body me­chanic to sup­port his fam­ily.

He had a pas­sion for mu­sic, play­ing bass, drums and singing across New Brunswick un­til arthri­tis slowed the pace of his play­ing, she said.

In ad­di­tion, he’d ac­quired a pas­sion in re­cent years for rid­ing his Har­ley-David­son, and he and his wife would tour the re­gion wear­ing the clas­sic leather gear.

“He loved mu­sic. He loved his Har­ley-David­son. He loved his three chil­dren,” Sean Cal­la­han, a cousin, said Satur­day.

Rel­a­tives of Bob­bie Lee Wright were un­avail­able for com­ment on Satur­day, as a cousin said they were strug­gling with in­tense grief. How­ever, close friends said they could not un­der­stand why any­one would want to hurt a woman they’d known as quiet and car­ing.

Amanda Lee Leighton, 32, said Wright was a friend who, in their teenage years, came to visit and com­fort her as she was griev­ing the death of her own mother.

News of her friend’s death had kept her up through the night.

“It’s heart­break­ing and I think I’m still in shock,” she said in an in­ter­view about the friend she cel­e­brated birthdays with in Wood­stock, N.B.

“I hardly slept last night think­ing about why this would hap­pen to her and won­der­ing how any­one could take a hu­man life.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Satur­day they didn’t know if there was a con­nec­tion between the man ac­cused in the deaths, Matthew Ray­mond, 48, and ei­ther of the civil­ian vic­tims.

How­ever, both Ro­bichaud and Cal­la­han con­firmed that Ro­bichaud and Wright had re­cently started their re­la­tion­ship.

“It was about a week and a half, two weeks. They had been talk­ing on the in­ter­net and had their first date last Fri­day. Be­fore that it was on­line,” Ro­bichaud said.

Friends of Wright say they’ll miss the in­ti­macy of get to­geth­ers to catch up on one an­other’s news, in what was a close cir­cle of friends who’d bonded in ju­nior high school.

“I feel hor­ri­ble that this could hap­pen to one of the nicest girls I had ever known,” Leighton said. “Lit­er­ally, she never fought with any­one or dis­liked any­one.”

Leighton said in re­cent years she’d had less con­tact with Wright, as they were both busy in their lives in Fred­er­ic­ton.

But when she and a cir­cle of friends who grew up in north­west­ern New Brunswick got to­gether, they re­mained close.

“We al­ways tried to catch up when our lives al­lowed us. She was a quiet girl. She loved to hang out with friends and al­ways had a smile on her face,” Leighton said.

“She was such a sweet, lov­ing young woman.”

Ro­bichaud said her fam­ily was plan­ning a wake for the mu­si­cian and au­to­body me­chanic, in a way that re­calls the kid­ney dis­ease he lived with and his pas­sion for his Har­ley-David­son.

“He wanted his ashes spread over places where he used to drive his Har­ley-David­son,” she said, adding that she hoped peo­ple will do­nate to the Kid­ney Foun­da­tion of Canada.

MELISSA RO­BICHAUD

Don­ald Ro­bichaud, cen­tre, with his sons, Draiden and Zakkery. Ro­bichaud had a pas­sion for mu­sic and rid­ing his Har­ley-David­son, his wife said.

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