An RCMP manhunt for a gunman suspected of killing three Mounties and wounding two others passed the 12-hour mark today in Moncton as a large section of the New Brunswick city was under a virtual siege.
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The Mounties who were killed were gunned down in an ambush, police sources tell The Globe and Mail.
Heavily armed RCMP officers patrolled the small city overnight in the search for 24-year-old Justin Bourque, a Moncton man who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture of him released by police on Twitter. The RCMP released a map of a large portion of the northwest section of the city, including a heavily wooded area, where they wanted people to remain inside with their doors locked.
Late Wednesday, the RCMP in New Brunswick tweeted a photo of the suspect, who they said was armed and dangerous. They urged anyone with information on his whereabouts to call 911.
The two injured officers were being treated for wounds that the RCMP described as non life-threatening.
They warned people to expect roadblocks and traffic disruptions.
Schools and government offices were closed, and the city pulled its buses off the roads.
Constable Damien Theriault broke down in tears at a media briefing as he spoke of the deaths of his three colleagues late Wednesday night.
“We are professionals,” Theriault said. “We will ensure the security of the public. We are going to do that.”
Vanessa Bernatchez was enjoying a few drinks in her family’s backyard when a neighbour yelled at them to get inside.
“There’s a man outside,” she recalls the neighbour saying. “He’s shooting cops.”
Moments later they heard gunshots and ran inside, locking the doors behind them. From inside the house they peeked out the front windows and noticed other neighbours milling around.
“We yelled at them ‘get in the house, get in the house,’” she said.
She decided she had to alert friends in the area about the man with the guns, so she started recording a short video that she intended to send out through social media as a warning to stay away. She had no idea it would eventually get replayed by news outlets around the world.
That’s when an unmarked police car rolled up and a plainclothes police officer stepped out. He was wearing a flak vest. Ms. Bernatchez said he kept turning around because he didn’t know the direction of the shooter. That’s when family members noticed a shadow growing larger between two houses next door.
“We knew it was the shooter right away,” she said. “We banged on the windows to let the officer know. We yelled ‘turnaround.’ Then there was a shot. The officer went down. He got shot in the neck.”
Despite his mortal wound, the officer managed to squeeze off two shots from his handgun as he fell to the ground, according to Ms. Bernatchez.
“He was still trying to get that shooter, but as soon as he hit the ground, he stopped moving.”
For Ms. Bernatchez, the most chilling part was still to come. They saw the shooter clearly. He was wearing a hat and had dark smudges beneath his eyes. The family watched through the front window as the shooter calmly raised his rifle and walked away slowly.
“He just walked away as if it was no big deal,” she said. “That’s what made me sick to my stomach.”
Ms. Bernatchez ran to the phone and called 911. She gave her location and the officer’s condition. The operator suggested the officer could be playing dead.
“I said ‘No, there’s too much blood. He’s not moving.'”
Within 10 minutes, her street was flooded with police.
“We told them he went toward the woods and the highway. We’ve been in the house ever since. I haven’t slept.”
Danny Leblanc, 42, said he saw the shooter in the distance Wednesday evening, wearing a camouflage outfit and standing in the middle of the street with a gun pointed at police cars.
The construction worker said he believed it was an RCMP officer until he heard a burst of automatic gunfire coming from the man’s gun.