5 Jun 2014

Gunman at large after shooting police dead in Canada

As a manhunt is under way in the Canadian city of Moncton after three officers were shot dead and two wounded – one resident tells Channel 4 News that the history is repeating itself.

Police are scouring the neighborhood and warning residents to stay in their homes as they hunt for a heavily armed man after three Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers were killed and two were wounded in shootings Wednesday night.

Local media published a photograph of a man in camouflage clothing and a black headband carrying a rifle. Reuters could not immediately authenticate the picture.

Man hunt

RCMP believe Justin Bourque, 24, is still in the area and the suspect has been spotted three times since Thursday morning. The police were unable to arrest him.

Residents of the small city of about 70,000 in the east coast province New Brunswick were told not to tweet the locations of officers for fear they could be helping the gunman.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States, and the killings have spurred an outpouring of grief on social media.

A Moncton-based writer and blogger Ken Kelley explained to Channel 4 News: “I have always believed that Moncton was one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Nestled away on the Atlantic Coast, Moncton is a modest, blue-collar kind of city with a population of fewer than 100,000 people.

“Moncton is the kind of city where, before last night, you could still feel reasonably safe if you left your door unlocked.

“I am terribly sad to acknowledge however that those days are most likely done, thanks to the actions of one individual.”

Mr Kelley added: “Last evening, as reports of a heavily armed gunman roaming the streets of the North end of the city infiltrated social media, people were dumbfounded. This wasn’t par for the course for Moncton by any means. It was early evening. Kids were out playing in the streets and in their yards. It was the perfect pre-summer evening.

“But later in the night, when the terrible news emerged that this lone gunman, who had wounded two police officers was also responsible for ruthlessly taking the lives of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, the city’s confusion turned to sadness and anger.”

1974 double killing

As the manhunt continues in Moncton, Mr Kelley told Channel 4 News that “history is repeating itself” 40 years after two police officers were killed in the same town.

The two police officers were pushed into shallow graves that they had been force to dig themselves by a pair of kidnappers, then shot in the head. The killers were condemned to hang, but their sentences were commuted to life in prison when Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976.

Mr Kelley added: “History is repeating itself all over again with equally tragic consequences. The constant drone of helicopters buzzing overhead serve as a reminder to the horrors that the city bore witness to last night but also serve to remind us that this individual is still on the loose.

“Knowing our citizens, I am confident that, like we did in 1974, the city will rise above this tragedy and emerge stronger than ever. As distant as that may seem at the moment, hope is all so many of us have to cling to right now.”