Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sightings of Canada 'police killer'

Police take cover behind their vehicles (AP/Moncton Times & Transcript, Ron Ward via The Canadian Press)
Police take cover behind their vehicles (AP/Moncton Times & Transcript, Ron Ward via The Canadian Press)
Police urge shopkeepers at a mall to shut down during the hunt for a gunman who killed three officers (AP/The Canadian Press)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police units seal off parts of Moncton, New Brunswick, after a gunman killed three officers (AP/The Canadian Press)

A man suspected of killing three Canadian police officers has been spotted three times today but has so far eluded a massive manhunt in the normally tranquil city of Moncton.

Justin Bourque, 24, was seen in three different places around Moncton, the latest instance after daylight this morning, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commander Marlene Snowman.

Heavily armed RCMP officers are combing streets and woods in search of Bourque, who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter.

Schools and government offices were closed, and the city pulled its buses off the roads. Mail delivery was suspended.

Police have commandeered armoured trucks and told residents to stay indoors.

Constable Damien Theriault said police responded to a call yesterday evening about an armed man in the north end of Moncton. Three of the responding officers were killed and two were wounded.

They were the first homicides this year in the east coast city of 69,000 about 180 miles east of the US border.

Mr Theriault said the city had no homicides last year: "We have been blessed until this point."

Police released a map of a large portion of the north-west section of the city, including a heavily wooded area, where they wanted people to remain inside with their doors locked. Authorities warned people to expect roadblocks and traffic disruptions.

Mr Theriault earlier broke down in tears at a media briefing, saying he personally knew the officers. Unable to complete his sentence, he excused himself.

The two injured officers are being treated for non life-threatening wounds.

Daniel St Louis, a commercial photographer, said he came upon the scene and saw two police vehicles on different streets with blood inside.

One of the vehicles, a marked police cruiser, was surrounded by shattered glass. The other, an unmarked pick-up with its lights still on and the driver's side door left open, had several bullet holes through its front windscreen.

He said: "I walked over and I saw two feet, facing the street, toes up. I realised, 'Oh my God. There's somebody down'. As I got close, I realised it was an officer and this is not a good situation."

He added: "Our quiet little city, what is going on here? How is this happening to us? It always happens to somebody else."

Police had a number of roads in the city blocked and traffic was backed up on major routes across the city. Drivers were asked to stay out of the area.

"It is a terrible tragedy," said Mayor George LeBlanc. "We as a city must pull together as a family to support those who have suffered losses."

Such violence is rare in Canada, particularly on the east coast.

The shootings brought back memories of when four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were killed in the western Canadian province of Alberta in 2005 in the deadliest attack on Canadian police officers in 120 years. They had been investigating a farm in Mayerthrope, a hamlet in Alberta, when a man shot them. The gunman was killed.

Prime minister Stephen Harper, in Brussels for a meeting of the G7 group of nations, offered his condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those affected by the shootings.

Police said the suspect has high-powered long firearms, ammunition and other items.

RCMP Commanding Officer Roger Brown said: "Quite honestly I don't know where he is at this time."

Ms Snowman said the suspect had been seen moving in and out of a wooded area, adding that he was not previously known to police. Investigators have not determined a motive for the shooting.

Press Association

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