A New Brunswick man charged with killing four people in one of the deadliest shootings in the province’s history had a firearms licence and allegedly used a gun that can be legally obtained in Canada, police said on Monday.
Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder after an apartment complex shooting Friday that killed civilians Bobbie Lee Wright and Donald (Donnie Robichaud), and responding officers Constable Robb Costello and Constable Sara Burns.
Police said the long gun investigators believe was used in the attack is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon.
“It’s a firearm that can be purchased here in Canada and the suspect does have a licence,” Deputy Chief Martin Gaudet told reporters at a news conference outside the Fredericton Police Department, where a memorial with flowers, cards and teddy bears has been set up.
“It’s a shouldered weapon – a long gun.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday the Liberal government has no plans to resurrect the controversial long-gun registry, which has long been a sore spot with farmers and gun enthusiasts after it was introduced in 1993 by Jean Chrétien’s government. The Harper Conservatives dissolved it in 2012.
“We will not be bringing back a long-gun registry – it’s not part of our plan and has never been,” Mr. Trudeau said after a town hall meeting with seniors in the community of North Milton, PEI.
“There are lots of conversations going on about what next steps might be taken. We’re listening to people and talking to experts about what we can do to keep our communities safe.”
In Fredericton, thousands of people turned out to a public event on Monday evening to express their grief and show support for their city.
Jessica Millier said she organized Hands Across the City as a way to bring people together.
People holding hands were lined across the walking bridge that spans the Saint John River and along the walking trails that hug the shorelines on the north and south sides of the city.
“My city is hurt, and they’re grieving, and they’re hurt deeply,” Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien said.
“This is a collective grief, a collective mourning and we will collectively heal,” he said.
Fredericton police urged the public on Monday to be patient during the ongoing investigation.
Chief Leanne Fitch acknowledged that people want answers about what happened, but she stressed that the police investigation is “very much active and is focused on finding facts.”
“I understand that there is a desire to find out what happened. We all want to know that,” Chief Fitch said. “But you have to understand that some of that will only be released through the court process.”
Chief Fitch did confirm, however, that one of the officers who responded to the shooting on the city’s north side was wearing a camera, although she wouldn’t say which one.
“One of our officers was wearing a body-worn video at the time of the call,” she said. “There was a body-cam video and that is part of the evidence that our investigators are looking at.”
Deputy Chief Gaudet added that the body-camera evidence was downloaded and provided to the RCMP as part of its homicide investigation.
Chief Fitch also confirmed that police officers in Fredericton are equipped with body armour and carbine rifles.
Mr. Robichaud’s wife, Melissa Robichaud, has said in multiple media interviews that her husband, from whom she was separated, had previously been a member of the Bacchus motorcycle club but left the club about a year ago.
“We are aware of that information that has been shared publicly as well,” Chief Fitch said. “At this time, we are just working through the investigative process. Again, we’re not going to speculate on any connections or motives there.”
Nancy Slade, home for a visit from Petawawa, Ont., came to lay sunflowers outside police headquarters with her six-year-old daughter, Molly, and three-year-old son, Dane.
Ms. Slade, the daughter of a Fredericton police officer who was friends with Constable Costello, said she wants her kids to understand the sacrifice made by officers.
“It’s just not supposed to happen here,” she said, her voice catching. “It’s never happened here, so it’s just really hard.”
Mr. Trudeau and his son, Hadrien, went on Sunday to police headquarters to lay flowers at the memorial and offer words of solidarity.
At Fredericton City Hall on Monday, a steady trickle of visitors arrived at city hall to sign books of condolences for the fallen police constables.
Many left in tears after seeing the simple display, which featured photos of the officers set next to two candles and a bouquet of white flowers.
Jane Abernathy, who lives in Fredericton, said she felt compelled to show her respect.
“Such a senseless tragedy, we never want this to happen again,” she said. “It was the least I could do, to sign my name.”
Meanwhile, a Fredericton business owner who knew Mr. Raymond described him as a “lonely person” who spent much of his time cycling and playing first-person shooter video games.
Brendan Doyle, the former owner of the recently closed Read’s Newsstand & Cafe in Fredericton, said he also asked Mr. Raymond to stop frequenting his coffee shop after he made inflammatory comments.
“He’d been coming in on almost daily for a coffee since 2010 and often stayed for an hour or two on the patio in the evenings,” Mr. Doyle said in a Facebook message on Sunday evening to The Canadian Press.
“While in the cafe, Matt also looked at magazines about bikes and about guns,” Mr. Doyle said. “He expressed an interest in owning the various high-end bikes in the magazines, but his interest in guns seemed to be related to his video games.”
He said Mr. Raymond had been coming in almost daily for coffee from 2010 up until 2017, when Mr. Doyle asked him to find coffee somewhere else.
Mr. Raymond previously worked at an Atlantic Superstore grocery on the city’s south side, the company confirmed on Monday.
“I can confirm only that he is a former employee with Atlantic Superstore. He was an employee a number of years ago,” said spokesman Mark Boudreau.
Mr. Raymond is set to appear in court on Aug. 27.
Fredericton police have announced that a regimental funeral “to celebrate the lives of our fallen members” will be held on Saturday at the University of New Brunswick.
An obituary for Constable Burns said the 43-year-old mother of three boys fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a police officer three years ago, after more than 14 years as a stay-at-home mom.
“Not a day would go by when she didn’t say aloud, for everyone to hear, ‘I love my job,“’ the obituary published on the McAdam’s Funeral Home and Crematorium website said.
An obituary for Mr. Robichaud said he is survived by a wife and three children, and there will be no visitation or funeral, in keeping with his wishes.
Also Monday, the province’s Court of Queen’s Bench issued a publication ban on certain court documents in the case, hours after media reported their contents.
With Kevin Bissett in Fredericton and Keith Doucette and Brett Bundale in Halifax