06/05/2014 11:32 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:02 EDT

Moncton shooting condolences pour in from across Canada

The fear and anxiety gripping Moncton, N.B., are being shared elsewhere as condolences from politicians, police and the public flood in.​

Police are still searching for Justin Bourque, the heavily armed gunman accused of shooting and killing three New Brunswick Mounties and wounding two others. It’s one of the worst mass shootings in  RCMP history.

As police continue to search the area throughout the night, they’re asking people to keep their outdoor lights on. In response, many people far away from the search zone have been tweeting photos of their porch lights on in solidarity.

“Light can drive out darkness,” tweeted Nicola Cassidy.

“It is something I can’t fathom because it is not something that happens here. You think about it happening somewhere else," said New Brunswick Premier David Alward.

As grief sank in, people turned to the hashtag #PrayforMoncton to express their shock and sadness. Eventually the hashtag was trending worldwide on social media.

On Thursday, flags were lowered to half-mast in many locations, including Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The House of Commons also observed a moment of silence to honour the slain officers.

“As a father of a police officer, I know that families across Canada who have a police officer are all reacting the same way, with grieving," said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair just before question period got underway.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who’s headed to Normandy for D-Day commemorations, also expressed his sympathy.

“This violent incident is a stark reminder that our men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line in Canada every day to protect our citizens and communities,” read a statement.

“To the brave women and men who risk their lives to keep us safe: thank you,” tweeted Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

RCMP connections 

For Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, this tragedy hits close to home. He has five brothers, a sister-in-law, as well as nieces and nephews involved in law enforcement.

“When one things happen to one family, quite frankly it happens to all of them, but for three families in New Brunswick this has been a devastating period of time and as a province our hearts go out to them."

The manhunt for the gunman involves up to 300 police personnel from across the country.

The tragic circumstances in Moncton weighed heavily on Halifax Staff Sgt. Bill Morris at a press conference Thursday morning.

“A sombre mood here this morning. Our officers are reporting for duty asking what can they do, how they can help. I've had several calls from off-duty officers asking can they come in," said Morris.

Don Spicer, a retired member of the Halifax Regional Police, said it will take a long time for the officers to heal after this tragedy.

“I feel a lump in my chest. I feel a need, you know, I’m retired but I just want to hop in my car and get up there and try to help. I can’t imagine the sense of grief and helplessness that they have,” he said.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc described the situation as "an extraordinary tragedy that nobody could foresee."

"Naturally there's a very high degree of concern and anxiety over this," he said. "It's certainly not the type of thing that anybody is used to seeing."

"This is just a horrible tragedy for the city, but especially, of course, for the families of those officers, and of course, it's extremely difficult and I want to extend our deepest sympathies to them and our support for them in the days to come."