Residents in the quiet Fredericton, N.B., neighbourhood where four people were shot dead on Friday morning have described the chaotic scene.
Two police officers, Const. Lawrence Robert Costello and Const. Sara Mae Helen Burns, were among those gunned down in the early morning shootout. The two other victims have only been identified by police as an adult man and woman.
The chief suspect, a 48-year-old man from Fredericton, is in hospital with serious injuries.
“The cop was literally standing outside my window firing his gun off,” witness Justin McLean told CTV Atlantic.
McLean said at first the exchange of gunfire outside his home seemed “unreal.”
“I went to my back window, I saw people lying on the ground and I realized something was going on.”
David MacCoubrey woke up to the sound of gunfire outside.
“I didn’t know if it was firecrackers or a car going off or something,” he said. “They woke me up around 7:07 a.m. I went and used the washroom and it continued about five minutes later.”
MacCoubrey added that it was then he knew it wasn’t kids playing and was in fact a serious situation. He said he dropped to the floor of his apartment and stayed there until the all-clear was given.
Darren Hill, an owner of a business located a block from the scene, said a profound sense of sadness has descended on Fredericton.
“It’s one of those situations where you think ‘never here’, but here we are,” he said. “It’s starting to sink in. I can’t believe that two law enforcement officers have passed and two citizens. It’s very unnerving.”
Jeff Magnussen, the general manager of the West Hills Golf Course in Fredericton, N.B., was getting the day’s first golfers out onto the course early Friday morning when he heard a few “pops.”
He dismissed them as nothing to worry about, but the steady stream of sirens that soon followed was unusual for the tranquil, largely residential neighbourhood, he told CTV News Channel.
“I thought, ‘Maybe it is something a little bit more than just noise,’” he said.
A series of tweets from Fredericton police after 8 a.m. helped Magnussen to fill in some of the blanks.
Police had apprehended a suspect in connection with a shooting in the area of Brookside Drive that left four people dead, including two police officers. The suspect, who has not been identified, was being treated for serious injuries.
“I’m a little speechless to be honest with you,” Magnussen told CTV News Channel. “It’s very upsetting.”
The shooting occurred as many people, such as local resident Rachel LeBlanc, were on their way to work. She told CTV News Channel that she heard four gunshots as she arrived at the daycare centre where she’s employed, which is located “extremely close” to where the shooting occurred.
A police dispatcher told LeBlanc to go on lockdown with the children that had already arrived. She said that she was trying to get the kids into their normal schedule and planned to go about a regular day with them despite the extraordinary circumstances occurring just outside.
She assured parents that their children were “very safe,” but told CTV News Channel that she was still trying to process the morning’s events.
“It happened right by my home,” she said. “Of course, I was calling my husband frantically telling him to lock the doors…it’s been very scary.”
Scott MacLeod, a local funeral director, works down the street from the location of the shooting. One of his employees called him to say that he could not get anywhere near the building, so Macleod told the rest of his staff to stay home.
Shortly thereafter, he told CTV News Channel, he was told to open the funeral parlour to help house some of the people who had been displaced as a result of the shooting.
“I deal with death and dying every day,” Macleod said, but added that the morning’s events were still “shocking.”
Residents described the area where the shooting occurred as a small, quiet neighbourhood where seniors are out strolling and children frequently rollerblade together. Many kept themselves apprised of the morning’s events by following social media or tuning into news coverage.
Scott Hill, a local business owner, said he was told that the shooting happened in an apartment complex near his business. He saw a number of police officers, as well as two SWAT vehicles, on the street outside.
“I grew up on Brookside Drive,” he told CTV News Channel. “It’s surprising and shocking. How could this happen here?”
The town is so small, he said, that he was certain he would know at least one of the dead police officers.
Travis Hrubenik, who moved to the area roughly one year ago from Winnipeg, Man., told CTV News Channel that the shooting “hits a little close to home” because he has a brother who is a cadet.
“When we were first coming here to look for a place to live, one of the taxi drivers joked that the most serious crime he ever remembered was having change stolen out of his car,” he said.
Marlene Dougherty, another local resident, said she was “anxious” and too scared to even look at her window.
“It’s just unbelievable,” she told CTV News Channel.
Elizabeth Hanton, a local resident who has lived in the area for nearly 30 years, said some residents may have mistaken the sounds of gunshots for those of local construction crews, which have been working in the area for weeks.
“It’s been a steady soundtrack of digging and hammering and the rest of it,” she told CTV News Channel, adding that the quiet that had descended upon the area after the shooting was “eerie.”
Hanton said Friday’s events triggered unpleasant memories of the shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., in June 2014 that left three RCMP officers dead.
“After the shootings happened in Moncton, I felt as if we’d gone from living in one place to living in a totally different world over the course of a couple of hours,” she told CTV News Channel. “This is a club no one wants to be part of, and Fredericton seems to have joined it.”
“To me it’s another Moncton all over again,” said resident John Gardner.