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Pioneer Ave. in a Moncton, New Brunswick trailer park where Justin Bourque lived after moving out on his own, photographed June 6 2014. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Pioneer Ave. in a Moncton, New Brunswick trailer park where Justin Bourque lived after moving out on his own, photographed June 6 2014. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Noise of gunfire still echoes for Mailhot Avenue residents in Moncton Add to ...

In the moments after gunfire erupted from the woods behind Ryder Trailer Park, Kerry Fitzpatrick jogged down to his friend Justin Bourque’s trailer. Some people in the park were insisting they had seen Mr. Bourque ambling along wearing military fatigues and carrying guns.

Mr. Fitzpatrick didn’t believe it. When he cracked the door of the trailer, he expected to see Mr. Bourque inside. Instead he saw a wallet, perfectly arranged so that Mr. Bourque’s photo ID was apparent to anyone who entered the home. Then he saw an open gun cabinet. His stomach turned.

“It looked like he wasn’t ever planning to come back,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “I haven’t slept since.”

As Moncton returned to some semblance of normalcy on Friday – back to a busy little city of long Tim Hortons drive-thru lineups, friendly waves for strangers and impeccable road manners – a fuller picture began to emerge of Mr. Bourque and the moment-to-moment terror of the shooting rampage that gripped this region for 30 sleepless hours.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Bourque appeared shaggy-haired and thin in a Moncton courtoom as he heard the charges against him: three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

The courthouse was nearly packed as the public, media and about a half-dozen Crown attorneys in the viewing gallery got their first glimpse of the suspect since he sent this city into mourning. Hands clasped one over the other, Mr. Bourque stood in Courtroom 1’s prisoner box, staring ahead as his future was discussed before him: a July 3 morning court appearance, and no psychiatric evaluation at this time.

For those who knew him growing up, the courtroom scene was nearly as surreal as the murderous acts Mr. Bourque is accused of committing. They recall him as a happy kid – one of five siblings – with a close family that attended Christ the King Church every Sunday.

Dianne Leblanc, a longtime parishioner at the church, said the Bourque parents, Victor and Denise, always attended services with their children in tow – something that drew her attention to what she described as a warm, quiet family.

The Bourque children lived for years in a small, beige house on a residential street near downtown Moncton. On Thursday, a young, clean-cut man who identified himself as a family friend stood watch over the home. His eyes watered as he stared across the small garden out front and offered confirmation that this was the Bourque home, but would say nothing more – the silence a stark contrast to the commotion that erupted on Thursday night when the RCMP arrived at the home and ordered everyone out.

“They’re great neighbours,” said John Doubt, who lives nearby, adding he moved there about a year ago and understands the family has lived there for several years. “They seemed a happy family.”

For the Bourques, news of their son’s arrest apparently comes just months before the wedding of their eldest daughter, Chantal, who is roughly 30, Ms. Leblanc said, adding she believes Justin is the middle child.

With French the first language at home, the Bourques identify as francophone, Ms. Leblanc said. Her understanding is that the children were all home-schooled at one time or another, a fairly unusual choice in the community, she said.

“I think, because the family was such good Catholics, the mood will be sorry for them,” Ms. Leblanc predicted of the upcoming Sunday service.

Throughout his teen years, Mr. Bourque retained a certain shyness. By the time Virginia Boudreau first met him, he was roughly 17 years old and “socially awkward,” she said. She knew other home-schooled kids and recognized Mr. Bourque as one right away. “He was baby-faced and nice and quiet,” she said. “You could tell he didn’t grow up like everyone.”

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