Saturday 27 December 2014

Suspect arrested in Canadian police killings, ending manhunt

Christinne Muschi

Published 06/06/2014 | 06:42

A heavily armed man that police have identified as Justin Bourque walks on Hildegard Drive in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, after several shots were fired in the area. The man, suspected of killing three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, was spotted three times Thursday but has so far eluded a massive manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Moncton Times & Transcript, telegraphjournal.com, Viktor Pivovarov)
The heavily armed man that police have identified as Justin Bourque walks on Hildegard Drive in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday
Emergency response officers wait outside a residence in Moncton, New Brunswick yesterday during the search

Justin Bourque, the man suspected of killing three Canadian Mounties and wounding two others has been arrested.

Michelle Thibodeau, 21, said she saw a man arrested in the front garden of her home in New Brunswick and heard him say, "I'm done" before he was seized by armed officers.

 

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Paul Greene said Bourque was held at about 12.30am local time.

 

Bourque, 24, was wanted after the Wednesday's shooting in the east coast city of Moncton. Terrified residents locked themselves indoors during the ensuing manhunt.

 

Police, including tactical officers, began their search for the shooter after responding to a call about a man walking along a road with a gun. After the call, shots were fired and officers called for back-up.

 

A motive for the shootings was not known and Bourque's neighbours described him as a withdrawn man who collected guns and an avid hunter of birds, deer and moose.

 

Bourque, who was armed with high-powered long firearms, was spotted three times yesterday, but still managed to elude the massive manhunt that all but shut down the city of 69,000 people about 180 miles east of the Maine border.

 

Dozens of police officers with their weapons drawn could be seen in a part of the search area, some glancing around buildings. Others, including members of a tactical unit, were patrolling streets within the cordoned off area. Armoured security trucks were also visible.

 

Bourque was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter.

 

During the manhunt, Conrad Gagnon, 53, said he spotted the suspect while playing a video game in his living room.

 

"It was like he was meditating on something and talking ... like somebody on drugs and living in his own world," he said. "He was talking to himself. I saw his lips moving."

 

Shortly afterwards Mr Gagnon said he heard gunfire. "I heard five or six shots, and after that another five or six shots," he said.

 

Kerry Fitzpatrick, who lives near Bourque and heard gunfire ring out, said he met him in 2010 when they were both working at the same warehouse.

 

Mr Fitzpatrick said he had not seen him much since he left that job two years later, but stopped at Bourque's home five days ago after hearing he had found a new job at a food depot.

 

Bourque lived in a trailer home with a male room-mate, Mr Fitzpatrick said.

 

"He seemed fine, it was a normal conversation," Mr Fitzpatrick said, but added Bourque "obviously had things on his mind" based on a stretch of recent Facebook posts about guns and the police.

 

"It was never something that we took serious because we actually know him, as friends," he said. "He lost it. The guy lost it."

 

Mr Fitzpatrick said he heard Wednesday's shooting from inside his home and then walked to Bourque's home when he heard it might be him. The door was open and Bourque's wallet was on the table, he said.

 

He said Bourque had a collection of guns and was "an avid hunter" of birds, deer and moose. "He never missed a season," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

 

The three officers were the first Canadian police killed in the line of duty since March 2013, when a police officer in northern Quebec was shot after responding to a domestic violence call.

 

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website, the last officer to die from a gunshot wound was on November 5 2007.

 

In 1974, two Moncton officers were kidnapped and shot dead after making a traffic stop.

 

RCMP commanding officer Roger Brown said the two wounded officers underwent surgery for non-life-threatening injuries and he met their families. One was later released from hospital.

 

"The RCMP family is hurting. As is Moncton, New Brunswick and our country," Mr Brown said.

 

Canada's parliament observed a moment of silence and the flag on Parliament Hill flew at half-mast.

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