Constable Lawrence Robert Costello had always told his family that, should something happen to him in the line of duty, not to shed too many tears.
It was something his common-law partner, Jackie McLean, tried to remember on Friday after learning he was one of four people shot dead in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Fredericton. Constable Sara Burns and two civilians also died.
“Robb was very adamant … that if something was ever to happen to him, he did not have a sad funeral,” Ms. McLean said. “He wanted to have a true Irish wake and wanted to have a party with lots of laughs and happy memories.”
Constable Costello – “Robb with two Bs," he would introduce himself as – was a 20-year police veteran, having served in various divisions with the Fredericton Police Force. Bob Davidson, executive director of the New Brunswick Police Association, described the 45-year-old as well-rounded and experienced, and active locally.
“[He] and his wife were involved with several community organizations, fundraising, a major part of the community,” Mr. Davidson said.
He had two daughters from a previous relationship and loved Ms. McLean’s two children as his own.
“We were very close to one another,” Ms. McLean said. “We spent all of our free time together.”
His social media posts show affection for Ms. McLean, his mother, his daughters and his job, and a strong interest in mental-health issues, particularly among first responders.
On Friday, friends and colleagues remembered the fallen officer as gentle and compassionate, a man who thought the world of his children and always had a smile on his face.
Genine Patricia Paul-Dimitracopoulos met Constable Costello nearly 15 years ago in her role as a social worker with St. Mary’s Child and Family Services. She remembered him as a hard worker, compassionate and gentle – traits that were apparent in cases involving children who had suffered harm.
“He was phenomenal. He was so good with the kids,” Ms. Paul-Dimitracopoulos said. “He could relate to them, he could talk to them. He made them feel at ease.”
As a security officer at a downtown Fredericton mall, Nate Gaines would cross paths with Fredericton Police daily. He called the slain police officers “two of the best that the force had.”
“Every time I dealt with Constable Burns or Constable Costello, they were A1,” Mr. Gaines said. “They were always there as soon as we needed them. They were polite, they didn’t treat people differently. They treated a homeless person the same as they would treat a rich person.”
Ms. McLean said her partner had planned to retire in the next six to seven years.
“We were looking forward to building years with just the two of us,” she said. “I still am in complete shock, and I don’t really know how to process it.”
With reports from Andrea Woo, Mike Hager, Vjosa Isai, Sunny Dhillon and The Canadian Press