What made Justin Bourque snap?

One question in the wake of Moncton massacre: Why?

A team of Maclean’s writers turned to friends, family and social media to chart the downward spiral of the man accused of killing three Mounties


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By the time police cornered Justin Bourque, 30 terrifying hours after he allegedly executed three RCMP officers, millions of people around the world had already seen the photograph: a young, camouflaged man—pump-action shotgun strapped to his back, semi-automatic rifle in hand—walking through a Moncton, N.B., neighbourhood. On social media, those who knew the gunman voiced their absolute shock.

“jesus,” one friend wrote on Facebook.

“its justin,” typed another.

“F–k he lost it,” said yet another.

Bourque, 24, was safely behind bars on Tuesday afternoon as the country paid its final respects to the three Mounties he allegedly gunned down: Fabrice Georges Gévaudan, 45; Douglas James Larche, 40; and David Ross, 32. For devastated loved ones, no explanation will ever be enough. Although investigators have already begun the exhaustive task of retracing Bourque’s final steps, the answers, whatever they are, won’t turn back time. Three brave men are dead, and they shouldn’t be.

Related post: Moncton mourns: Images from the regimental funeral 

But the question inevitably lingers, as it always does after senseless tragedies like this: Why? Why would a witty, intelligent man with loving parents, supportive siblings—and a hilarious knack for pop-culture impressions—load his firearms and literally dare the police to respond? What could have possibly triggered such unthinkable violence?

Only Justin Bourque knows for sure (and even he may not). But this week’s Maclean’s cover story reveals that his downward spiral began more than two years ago, as he grew increasingly fixated on faraway wars, state conspiracies and the right to bear arms. He talked to buddies about the looming apocalypse and his desire to “live off the grid.” Some friends feared that Bourque, a regular pot smoker, had turned to much harder substances—fuelling his paranoia.

“Ask yourself, would you fight for the future of your children or grandchildren, or your family and friends’ sons and daughters?” he wrote on his Facebook page on April 7, two months before the rampage. “The answer is: no you’re too stupid to know what to fight for, cause we’re already losing the silent war you don’t wanna believe is happening.”

Even Bourque’s parents, concerned about their son’s increasingly disturbing behaviour, reached out to retired friends who worked in law enforcement. Nothing could be done, they were told. “I don’t know what caused this,” Victor Bourque, Justin’s father, tells Maclean’s. “A gentle soul like him who wouldn’t hurt a fly all of a sudden flips over, so there’s something there that’s unanswered, and we’ll only find out as time goes along. Everybody will have to be patient.”

Read the full story in this week’s edition of Maclean’s magazine. It’s on newsstands starting Thursday, or find the digital edition on your tablet today.


One question in the wake of Moncton massacre: Why?

  1. Elliot Rodger gave us 140 pages of ‘why’, and nobody believed it. People are unlikely to believe whatever theories come out of this too.

    We really don’t want to deal with it.

    • He said it was about sex – that girls had rejected him. That’s not a reason to kill, but it is a start to understanding the problems he faced.

    • The “problems he [Rodgers] faced” might not be significant to anyone else…the young man was a white privileged rich boy from Hollywood but his perception of his problems were obviously very different. He actually wanted to murder his six-year old brother because the brother had found success as an actor in a television commercial. Further, Rodgers’ parents had taken him to multiple mental health professionals seeking help for his perceived problems. Sometimes a cure is not to be found.

  2. I think he bought in to the right-wing gun-nut, “patriot” drivel emanating from the US. His Facebook site was all over the place, most cited example come straight fro the NRA and Faux News. I also think he had a psychotic break, it usually manifests itself in young men in the late teens, early twenties. Or not.

    • Psychosis by definition is the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. An extreme right-wing view that the government is threatening one’s liberty because they suppress gun ownership is shared by quite a number of people, most of whom are not experiencing psychosis.

  3. Gee whiz. Don’t tell me we’re trying to analyze “root causes” here????

    • http://www.macleans.ca/authors/emily-senger/how-should-the-media-cover-mass-shootings/

      According to the forensic psychiatrist, there are three necessary conditions (root causes): The perpetrator is 1) depressed (willing to die) 2) angry and 3) has a stimulus that sets him off on THAT particular day.
      You might think there is some “root cause” that is related to a societal failing but given that people like Marc Lepine kill because they don’t get into the college they want to, you cannot really say with any certainty that the “root cause” is either predictable, reasonable or even something society can alter.

  4. He went off the same day the department managing RCMP oversight announced yet another delay in their “investigation” into the the crimes committed by it’s members during last years flood. Any chance this was the stressor that finally lit this unstable man’s fuse?

  5. Whenever I read about these nutcases coming from quiet, devoutly religious homes, I get a’wonderin…….

    • ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.’ Voltaire.

  6. Why did this seemingly gentle man do it?


    He’s real. He’s ‘the adversary’ or ‘accuser’. And he loves to manipulate and tempt us into doing wicked acts and THEN cause people to doubt God’s existence and goodness knowing full well that God is real, that He is good, and that He has revealed Himself to us in His Word and in the person of Jesus Christ who died to pay for your sins and mine, rose from the dead to prove His divinity and to give us hope, and is the only way to eternal LIFE as opposed to torment or ‘spiritual death’. A couple different places in the bible warn us to stay away from “sorcery”. But the original greek word is pharmakeia…. Yes, where we get the word “Pharmacy” from. Why would God want us to avoid drugs? Especially weed? Isn’t it “natural”?? Check the studies; prolonged marijuana use by some people leads to what the medical ‘professionals’ call “schizophrenia”… a mental condition where people “hear voices directing them and guiding them”…. So here we have Justin Bourque, an avid pot user who also became swallowed up in conspiracy literature (which isn’t always untrue by the way), and all of this paranoia coupled with the influence of demonic forces led him down a very dark road where he gave into temptation, first to think to do evil, and then to do it. Before you brush this off as “bible thumper” jargon, ask yourself: “Is there a coincidence between drug use and the alteration of the mind, and potential demonic/spiritual influence which happens first and foremost through the mind and the will??” After all, shamans, medicine men, witch doctors, seers and false prophets, etc, all throughout human history ingested and inhaled different types of chemical substances (pharmakeia) in order to speak with the supposed “superior beings” of the spiritual realm. Still think there’s no connection? Look at the massive influx of drug use throughout the 60’s, and its leading to the moral downfall of society, and think back to a Satanist named Aliester Crowley who claimed to be a prophet of Satan whom under the influence of narcotics prophecied the Satanic agenda we have seen unfold in this latter part of the century in preparation of the coming anti-Christ. Seriously, google the guy. The rampant use of drugs was the door or rather “mind opener” to every other awful thing that transpired and will continue to (and yes, the sexual ‘revolution’ and the breakdown of the marriage and family was also prophecied by him as being a phase to follow the drug use… as we’ve witnessed..). There’s only one hope: Jesus Christ. I know because He’s saved me. Not only eternally, but even in this life from the kind of awful hurtful life I lived before. So I urge you, humble yourself before the Lord so He will have mercy on you, allow Him to change your heart by His Spirit, open His Word – the Holy Bible – in the New Testament and start to get to know Him, repent, cry out to Him and trust in Him to be your Savior and rightful Lord who bought your eternal life at a great cost on the cross at calvary…. And in spite of what all the critics say, the bible is indeed the written revelation from the one true God. We can make the world a little better here and there, but only God can make it a New Heaven and Earth, and that’s just what He intends to do when Christ returns to cleanse all unrighteousness and recreate everything to be enjoyed by those who knew Him in relationship. God bless you who read this to the end. I hope to see you in Heaven one day :)

    • [Rolls eyes] And Michael here is a prime example of religious insanity.

    • Another long-winded Christian fundamental who can only use “bible thumper jargon” to support his views. There, I brushed it off, dude. BTW, still waiting for the lightning bolt.

  7. Why? Pot smoking, hard drugs plus whisky. Granny

    • If that’s all it took we’d have shootings all over Canada….all the time.

  8. I am so disgusted by your cover – he/it should NOT be on the cover! you are glamourizing him by having him on the cover and we do not need copy cats who want their pic on your publication as well. The officers should be what the article is about and their legacy. But sensational sells, so promoting him in a larger picture is good for your revenue.