NEWS

Moncton shooting: Manhunt on for killer of 3 RCMP officers

06/05/2014 05:30 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:00 EDT
Police are scouring a Moncton neighbourhood and warning residents to stay in their homes with their doors locked as the manhunt for a heavily armed man who killed three RCMP officers stretches into a second day.

​RCMP believe Justin Bourque, 24, is within an area bounded by Berry Mills Road, Killam Drive, Mountain Road and Evergreen Drive in the Pinehurst subdivision of Moncton.

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"If you live in the marked area, stay inside / lock doors. Roads blocked. Avoid area," the RCMP tweeted early Thursday, with a map indicating the search area.

New Brunswick RCMP have confirmed that three officers were shot and killed and two other officers were wounded by a heavily armed gunman Wednesday evening in Moncton.

RCMP are searching every vehicle in the area, said CBC reporter Melissa Oakley.

"Two officers with rifles opened the doors to our van and the tail gate. Rifle aimed in the vehicle," she reported.

RCMP Const. Damien Theriault could not say how many police officers were involved in the manhunt. 

Theriault, visibly emotional during a news conference early Thursday morning, asked the public not to disclose any information about the police operation or locations of officers on social media.

One witness near the scene of the shooting told CBC News he saw one officer bleeding from a wound toward the top of her head. 

The witness said the RCMP rushed her away in a police cruiser. Hospital staff confirmed some of the victims arrived at the hospital in police cars.

Dr. Dhany Charest, the chief of staff at the Moncton Hospital, said two gunshot victims related to the tragedy were being treated. A third patient was being treated from a separate gunshot incident that occurred on Wednesday evening. 

​Schools closed, buses pulled from service

The Anglophone East school district closed all of its schools Thursday. Francophone South school district closed schools in Moncton, Dieppe-Memramcook, Shediac and Bouctouche as a safety precaution.

Public transit is shut down in the city as Codiac Transpo took all its buses off the road.

The Moncton courthouse also closed for the day because of the unfolding situation.

The University of Moncton campus in the city announced it will remain closed until noon, at which time things will be reevaluated. The New Brunswick Community College is also closed.

Champlain Place shopping mall is delaying its opening until further notice.

Provincial government offices in the Moncton area are also closed Thursday.

Paul Greene, an RCMP spokesman, said Bourque was last seen in the wooded area near the Pinehurst subdivision. Police are also asking people to leave their outdoor lights on.

Moncton Hospital remains on lockdown with police and security guarding the building. The hospital had declared a "code orange" requiring all available staff to come to the hospital, but that was lifted around 1:30 a.m. AT.

Hospital staff said the two people injured in the shooting are in stable condition. They could not confirm these people were RCMP officers, nor the gender of the injured.

Officials said operating rooms are being kept clear in case there are more casualties.

A police helicopter is flying in the area.

The RCMP said the police received a call at 7:20 p.m. AT about a man wearing camouflage and carrying guns.

Greene said additional police resources from across New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are in Moncton to assist the RCMP in the manhunt. 

'We're scared, obviously'

The shooting has rattled people living in the city's north end.

Joan MacAlpine-Stiles said she saw the shooter when she went to open up a window.

"It was really warm in the house, so we opened up the windows in the family room and there he was going across through the back with this rifle on his shoulder," she said.

"I said, 'Oh my God, there he is with camouflage and the headband and a gun, and it looked like a bow he had with him. And I mean he was just through our backyard.'"

Vanessa Bernatchez posted a video on Facebook from the moment the gunman opened fire, apparently killing at least one RCMP officer.

Watching from inside her living room with several others, Bernatchez said it appears the Mountie didn’t see the shooter until the gunfire erupted.

“It was too late, he went down. We knew it was over,” Bernatchez told CBC News Network.

On the video, a man describes what’s happening outside.

“He shot him … he shot a cop,” he said.

“Oh my God,” Bernatchez screams. “Call 911.”

The video ends with her racing to the phone. Police and a tactical team arrived on the scene soon after, she said.

Will Njoku said he was emptying his dishwasher and putting his young children to bed just before 8 p.m. when he heard popping sounds.

"Within 30 seconds I heard sirens," he said.

Njoku said he heard five more shots after the sirens.

"We’re scared, obviously. We’re more terrified for the people who this shooter is basically in their backyard. I can picture these people’s houses," he said.

When the news broke that there was a shooter on the loose, Njoku said, he went out on his street to warn his neighbours.

"I felt pretty dumb. But there was people going down there. I just know my neighbourhood. It’s just kid city," he said.

Premier 'shocked and saddened'

New Brunswick Premier David Alward issued a statement about the Moncton police shootings.

"I was shocked and saddened to learn of tonight's tragic situation in Moncton," Alward said.

"On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to those affected. I would ask New Brunswickers, particularly in those areas identified by police, to follow the situation as it develops and to listen to the advice of police."

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc also asked city residents to stay indoors. 

"Terrible sad news for Moncton. Stay indoors and allow police to do their job. Prayers for the families," LeBlanc tweeted.

LeBlanc said at a news conference that he has confidence that police will apprehend the suspect and he said there is no need at this point to declare a state of emergency.

PM offers condolences

Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented on the shootings Thursday morning. 

"On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our deepest condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those affected by this tragedy. We also offer our prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured," Harper said in a statement.

Harper is currently in Belgium to attend a G7 Summit meeting. 

"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," he said. 

The CBC's Kate Letterick is on the scene. Follow @letterickCBC for emerging details.

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