Helicopters whirred overhead overnight, the sound of police sirens and the light from passing armoured vehicles streamed into homes like that of Bill Daigle, who was outside doing lawn work with his wife when he heard what he first thought were fireworks but later proved gunfire just one block from his home.
He and his wife hardly slept since the lockdown set in Wednesday evening, their teenaged daughter returning home around 5 a.m. Thursday morning after staying the night at the local Superstore, where she works.
“We’re nervous,” Mr. Daigle said Thursday morning. “We’d be really happy to see this all resolved ... We know there’s a very large police presence, so we trust that if we wait it out and stay inside, we’ll probably be safe.”
Mr. Daigle runs the city’s Parlour Pawn Shop, and has worked closely with local RCMP for years to try to limit crime related to pawn sales. He said it’s likely he knows the dead and wounded by first name; the names haven’t yet been released.
He said it’s likely the shooter travelled by foot from his Hildegard neighbourhood to the Pinehurst subdivision, where the search, playing out on his television, appears to be centred. It had been roughly a half-mile walk through a wooded area and across a major artery that runs through the small city, he said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is attending the G7 summit in Brussels, extended sympathies to the victims’ families.
“I’d just like to express all of our sorrow at the deaths of the three members of the RCMP killed last night in New Brunswick in the performance of their duties,” he told reporters. “This should obviously remind us that our men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect us as Canadians and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and also the others wounded in this terrible incident.”
Mayor George LeBlanc also offered his condolences to the families of the police officers who were killed and those who were injured.
“Never in my darkest dreams did I ever think that we would be facing what we’re facing today in Moncton,” he told reporters on Thursday.
New Brunswick Premier David Alward also passed on his sympathies to the victims’ families.
“It just isn’t possible to understand why such things happen but it is critical that as a community we work together to support the entire community at this time,” he said.
Based on information from the RCMP’s Honour Roll page on its website, the last Mountie to die from a gunshot was Const. Douglas Scott on Nov. 5, 2007. He was shot while responding to a call for help involving an impaired driver at Kimmirut, Nunavut.
The most recent police officer killed in the line of duty was Constable Steve Dery of the Kativik police force in northern Quebec. Constable Dery, 27, was shot and killed after he and another constable responded to a domestic violence call on March 2, 2013.
The shootings in Moncton brought back memories of an RCMP tragedy in Mayerthorpe, Alta., on March 3, 2005, when Constables Anthony Fitzgerald Orion Gordon, Lionide (Leo) Nicholas Johnston, Brock Warren Myrol and Peter Christopher Schiemann were shot and killed.
With reports The Canadian Press