Police in New Brunswick confirmed early Friday that shooting suspect Justin Bourque has been arrested.
Mr. Bourque, 24, wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of three RCMP officers was taken into custody shortly after midnight.
Barricades that had been in place while police scoured the city of Moncton started coming down immediately after word of the arrest began to leak.
A Twitter message from New Brunswick RCMP finally brought some relief to the residents of this city, many of whom had been living in fear since the shootings took place Wednesday evening.
“Justin Bourque arrested by RCMP at 12:10 in Moncton He is in police custody. Residents of north Moncton can now leave their homes,” the message said.
A Moncton resident named Michelle Thibodeau tweeted that she witnessed the arrest.
"He was in my backyard. I saw him arrested in front of my eyes. He is alive," Ms.Thibodeau tweeted.
"The swat team arrived at my house and unloaded and started screaming in my backyard for him to surrender and he did. I watched it happen.
"They had him sprawled on my front lawn for some time and then loaded him into the swat vehicle. They are now checking my yard for firearms."
Businesses and schools had been shut down for nearly 30 hours as hundreds of police hunted a man described as a gun enthusiast whose Facebook page included anti-police slogans, was believed to be carrying several weapons and plenty of ammunition.
According to police, the suspect was spotted three times on Thursday but could not be apprehended. By afternoon, police snipers moved into position and officers surrounded a rooming house in Moncton. But after clearing the building, they left empty-handed. As night fell, the RCMP asked residents to stay locked in their homes and keep their porch lights on to help with visibility.
“This is working through your worst nightmare,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, the force’s commanding officer in New Brunswick. “This is a very, very dangerous situation.”
Military-style armored vehicles patrolled the roads while helicopters whirred overhead. Tensions were high as police were grieving the loss of three colleagues, the worst mass shooting of police officers in Canada since the 2005 slaying of four officers at Mayerthorpe, Alta.
The officers in Moncton were gunned down in an ambush, police sources told The Globe and Mail.
One of the slain Mounties was Constable Dave Ross of the Codiac RCMP, according to a report in The National Post. Constable Ross was described as a police dog handler who was married with a young son and with another child on the way. His sister-in-law told the paper that his widow came home to find the barbecue still running and Constable Ross gone, as he had been called to work urgently, likely after the first reports of a gunman at large. The RCMP did not immediately confirm the report and did not name the rest of the victims.
Two RCMP officers were also wounded during the gunfire. One was released from hospital on Thursday.
Mr. Bourque, who had no previous brushes with the law, was wearing military camouflage and carrying two high-powered rifles along with other weapons in a photo taken on Wednesday that police circulated. Witnesses who saw him shortly before the shooting described him as having a cold, blank look on his face. They said he carried an assault rifle, a shotgun and a crossbow, as well as several knives and ammunition belts. They also described him as a marksman who spent many hours at the gun range. It is not known whether his guns were bought legally.
As an eerie quiet settled over the city of 70,000, schools, government offices and public transit closed for the day. Police staffed roadblocks and checked cars for any sign of the suspect.
Residents of a large portion in the northwest part of Moncton, which includes a heavily wooded area, were ordered to stay inside and to lock their doors. Police appealed to citizens to report any sightings of Mr. Bourque or leads that may help identify his whereabouts.