‘We’re heav­ily out-armed:’ Monc­ton Moun­tie

Edmonton Journal - - CANADA - ad­ina Bresge

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.

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