It was a day to mourn the dead and pray for the families of the fallen, as Moncton begins to recover from the devastating shooting deaths of three Mounties.
The RCMP continued its investigation, including taping off the area near Justin Bourque’s mobile home on Pioneer Avenue, where neighbour Kerry Fitzpatrick said he saw the bomb squad at work on Sunday. Mr. Bourque is facing three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Constables Fabrice Gévaudan, Douglas Larche and David Ross, as well as two counts of attempted murder.
The RCMP were said to have declined to comment on their explosives search.
But a police presence was still obvious in parts of the city Sunday, as the tedious work of compiling evidence continues. The force has put out a plea to residents to scour their properties for evidence and to turn in any photos or video depicting the shootings or the gunman’s movements. In the coming days, officers will be interviewing locals and conducting searches with the help of forensics and explosives experts and police dogs.
“Any outstanding evidence could be crucial for the investigation,” RCMP spokeswoman Corporal Chantal Farrah said in a statement.
In churches across the city on Sunday, congregations prayed for the slain officers and their families.
The Bourque family, which has gone to Christ the King Church most Sundays for years, didn’t attend morning services this weekend. Mr. Bourque’s grandparents weren’t seen at their usual mass either.
Justin Bourque’s father, Victor Bourque, told a news service that he and his wife, Denise, had been concerned about their son and unsuccessfully sought help.
“We even tried to get the police involved but they said they couldn’t do anything about it and that their hands were tied,” the elder Bourque told Postmedia News. “It is sad. People are falling through the cracks and this is another one.”
He said he and Ms. Bourque are “devastated” and wish to extend their “deepest sympathies and condolences” to the victims’ families. “There are no words I can say that will change anything,” he said. “It is a tragedy that we will have to get through together.”
At Hillside Baptist Church, where the late Constable Ross met his now-pregnant wife, Rachael, the congregants were reminded that his little boy, Austin, will have only his dad’s memory to celebrate this coming Father’s Day. The children of Constable Larche and Constable Gévaudan face the same prospect.
“Doug had a silly sense of humour, one that he would often only reveal to his family and close friends,” Constable Larche’s wife, Nadine, said in a statement Sunday. “Let us honour his memory and that of his deceased colleagues so that our daughters and all of the other affected children know that their fathers were heroes.”
Constable Larche’s three girls, ages 4, 8 and 9, were his “little princesses, his most precious treasures,” Ms. Larche said.
At Hillside, Pastor Jerry Reddy told the congregation that faith was an important part of Constable Ross’s life – that five years ago, on a Superbowl Sunday, the officer took the stage and described his job as “a calling.” Constable Ross also spoke of the inherent risk of being a police officer.
Pastor Reddy called Sunday’s service “a time for healing,” asking the crowd to pray for all those affected by last week’s violence.
The prayer list included, he said, the Bourque family, which he predicted “is probably suffering in unbelievable silence and shame.”
Constable Jim Shields, with the RCMP’s Cole Harbour Detachment, came to the service from Nova Scotia. “As a fellow believer, and on behalf of the RCMP, I wanted to show my support,” he said.
Elisabeth French, a long-time friend of Ms. Ross, said the tragedy showed that “every day is a gift,” and served as a reminder of how much people take for granted.
“If the shooter had only know the type of man that Dave was,” she said. “David and those other two RCMP officers would have given their lives for him if his life was in danger.”
One family friend said the tragedy has left the Bourques “marked.” The man, who asked not to be named, said he grew up with Victor Bourque on a nearby street, and said the man had done his best to “raise his children right” and do well for his family, working in a dental lab.
With the priest at the Bourque family’s church in Spain on a pilgrimage, the presiding clergyman led the service and read aloud a letter from the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“May our Lord help comfort the community in this moment of pain and loss, and bring healing to the hearts and minds of all who have been hurt – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually,” Archbishop Paul-André Durocher wrote.
Outside the church, a young man who had attended the service with his father said so much remains a mystery. “What happened?” Kieran Murphy said. “What provoked [the killer] to do what he did?”