‘We’re heavily out-armed:’ Moncton Mountie
MONCTON, N.B. •Ahushed Moncton courtroom heard the alarmed voice Wednesday of a senior Mountie calling for help as “heavily out-armed” officers tried to track a gunman out to assassinate police.
“We’re going to need everything we’ve got,” Cpl. Peter MacLean pleaded in a June 4, 2014, recording played at the RCMP’s Labour Code trial. “We’re heavily out-armed here.”
Then, to other officers, MacLean radioed: “Keep cover guys. He’s got long guns. Ours are too short for him. We don’t have the artillery for this.”
MacLean testified Wednesday that officers “didn’t have anything to match” Justin Bourque’s semi-automatic rifle in the Moncton massacre, which left three Mounties dead and two others wounded.
MacLean was one of three responding RCMP officers who took the stand Wednesday in Moncton provincial court.
They described a chaotic response to the shooting spree with scarce resources — two officers argued over a hard-body armour suit, insisting the other take it for the sake of her children — broken communication and general lack of co-ordination.
The RCMP is accused of failing to provide members and supervisors with the appropriate information, instruction, equipment and training in an active-shooter event.
As soon as reports of live gunfire came in, Cpl. Jacques Cloutier, who was acting sergeant for the detachment while the command post was unfilled, testified that he sent everyone in the office to the scene.
The chatter over the radio became more “active,” Cloutier said, so he asked for an update. An officer called him to say that Const. Fabrice Gevaudan “was gone.”
“I asked ... ‘Tell me, well, where did he go?’ and I realized what he meant,” Cloutier told the court. “For five seconds, I was kind of numb.”
MacLean had lost his radio during the pursuit, so he took Gevaudan’s as officers made futile efforts to revive him, he said.
He said the radio traffic was frantic and full of “conflicting” information. Officers from other detachments couldn’t even access the channel, he said.
Volleys of shots rang out in quick succession, MacLean said, leading him to question whether the shooter was carrying an automatic weapon.
Const. Martine Benoit testified that she couldn’t recall anyone being in charge as confused officers scrambled to respond to unverified sightings of the shooter.
Benoit told the court that she stood alone in a parking lot “waiting to be shot again” not long after Bourque fired multiple rounds into her police cruiser.
“It was kind of a chaos situation,” Benoit said. “It was one shot after the other.”
“I don’t recall that anyone was in charge at that point,” she said. “There was a lot of members trying to figure out what they needed to do.”
Benoit said Cpl. Lisa Whittington urged her to take her hard-body armour, or HBA, but she resisted.
“We were arguing on who was going to take the HBA that they had there,” Benoit recounted. “She says, ‘Well, you have kids.’ And I said, ‘Well you have kids too.’ ”
Eventually, Benoit put on the equipment.
Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years.
WE WERE ARGUING ON WHO WAS GOING TO TAKE THE HARD-BODY ARMOUR.