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Monctonians seek ways to heal as RCMP searches

RCMP officers scour a field in  Moncton on  June 7 not far from where officers arrested a man charged with killing three of their colleagues.

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

As law enforcement officials dig deeper into the shooting this week that left Moncton paralyzed, those closest to the bloodshed are beginning to grieve and searching for ways to heal.

The RCMP announced Saturday that a memorial for the three officers killed Wednesday night would take place Tuesday at the Moncton Coliseum, preceded by a parade of law enforcement officials from across Canada.

And St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, a stone's throw from the north Moncton streets where three RCMP officers were killed Wednesday, held a session for the community Saturday evening to walk through the trauma local residents feel as the gravity of shootings takes hold.

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Some 50 people showed up to the event. Pastor Martin Kreplin and his wife Eleanor Kreplin, both trained in critical-incident stress management, walked the crowd through symptoms they might not realize they're feeling - and explored healthy coping mechanisms to, over time, find normalcy again.

Offering practical help, Mr. Kreplin said, is crucial in the wake of such a shocking event. "We recognize the community is in significant pain," Mr. Kreplin said. "With the right kind of information, we can help them to begin the process of healing."

In a largely non-religious presentation, he warned the crowd that their own reaction to the trauma – be it over-drinking, under-eating, the fear of going outside or a pervading sense of isolation – might not sink in immediately, but will require the help and strength of others to get through.

At no point did he name the suspect, Justin Bourque. "One of his motivations might be seeking infamy, and I don't think we should give that to him," Mr. Kreplin said, noting as well that he did not want to bring further grief to the suspect's family.

Nearly thirty people were in the church Wednesday night when the neighbourhood was put on lockdown as the manhunt for the suspect began. They remained there for nearly five hours until police allowed them to go to their homes.

Earlier Saturday, RCMP searched a grassy pit near the residential area where Mr. Bourque was captured.

The police had been carrying out a grid search, believed to be for the sake of ensuring any weapons Mr. Bourque was carrying had been recovered. When he was caught, he wasn't armed but weapons were found in the vicinity, RCMP have said.

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The low-lying field is adjacent to the fenceline behind Mecca Drive, where Mr. Bourque was apprehended early Friday morning after a roughly 30-hour manhunt for the gunman responsible for the shooting death of three RCMP officers Wednesday night.

A woman in a backyard on the other side of the fence said RCMP officers had been scouring the land on the other side, near a major roadway. A few dozen Mounties had done a line search.

The tall, wooden fence - with about a foot or two of room beneath it, and a gap at the end with access to the yards amid thick vegetation - snakes behind the Mecca Drive properties, a barrier between the field and the wooded, bushy strip behind the residential backyards.

The 24-year-old accused surrendered to police in one of the yards near the search area in the early morning hours Friday, reportedly telling them, "I'm done."

The Mounties continued their investigative process at the backyard scene of the arrest Saturday, where an RCMP Forensic Identification Services van was parked out front. Traffic Services, with its surveyor equipment, was expected to join the effort to plot a map of the red markers denoting where evidence had already been retrieved.

Mr. Bourque has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. having allegedly killed three RCMP officers and injuring two more, now recovering.

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He is expected to appear back in court July 3 at 9:30 a.m.

With files from The Canadian Press

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