MONCTON, N.B. — Four days after the fatal shootings of three RCMP officers in Moncton, the pastor of the church Const. Dave Ross attended told its congregation it’s time for the healing to begin.
Jerry Reddy asked everyone Sunday to pray for the family, friends and colleagues of the three New Brunswick Mounties killed by a gunman on Wednesday.
He told the service at Hillside Baptist Church that bad things can happen to good people.
“May that healing begin here today,” said Reddy, standing in front of a picture of Ross and his wife Rachael on their wedding day. “Our hearts are broken for the lives of those three Mounties who sacrificially died in the line of duty this week.
“Life is a gift to be lived one day at a time.”
Ross, 32, was shot and killed after responding to a report of a man with firearms in a residential neighbourhood of Moncton.
The other two victims were Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally of Boulogne-Billancourt in France, and Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, of Saint John, N.B.
Constables Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois suffered injuries that are not life-threatening. The RCMP said Sunday both officers have been discharged from the hospital.
Justin Bourque, 24, is facing three charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
He was arrested shortly after midnight Friday, ending a 30-hour manhunt that put much of the city under a virtual siege.
Bourque appeared in court later that day and his case was adjourned until July 3.
The Montreal Gazette reported Sunday that Bourque’s father tried to get his son help, although he did not disclose what was troubling the young man because of the court case.
“People are falling through the cracks and this is another one,” Victor Bourque is quoted as telling the newspaper in a telephone interview from where it says the family is in hiding.
He said people shouldn’t judge the family or read anything into the fact his son was home schooled.
“We are devastated,” said Victor Bourque, calling it the worst nightmare for a parent, the Gazette reported.
Some people cried during Sunday’s church service at Hillside and many hugged and consoled each other in the lobby and parking lot after the service.
People placed notes of condolence in a basket as three candles dressed in blue ribbons flickered for the fallen RCMP officers.
Reddy said Ross was a special part of the church’s family and had met his wife in a bible study group.
“Dave loved life, his family and his faith in God,” he said. “There is a renewed sense of gratitude for the members of the Codiac RCMP who do what’s necessary every day to protect you and me.”
Throughout the city, signs in front of businesses carried messages of support for the Mounties including one that read “God Bless the RCMP.”
Outside the RCMP detachment, people continued leaving flowers, candles and messages Sunday at a makeshift memorial that was started soon after the shootings.
Before the service, Amy Klassen, a friend of the Ross family, spoke fondly of Dave Ross and called him a devoted family man and a friend to everyone he met.
“Those who knew him will remember he flipped his sunglasses on backwards and hung them from the back of his head and gave us a big smile and a firm handshake,” she said. “Everything he did was with a great deal of passion and commitment.”
Larche’s wife, Nadine, issued a statement Sunday, saying he was a family man who lived for his three daughters, ages four, eight and nine.
“He was an extraordinary father and husband, loyal and completely selfless,” she said. “Doug had a silly sense of humour, one that he would often only reveal to his family and close friends. He was the best person I knew.
“We now begin the impossible task of honouring his memory and mourning his death.”
The Moncton Community Peace Centre held counselling sessions Sunday to help members of the public deal with the tragedy, including a session just for people who lived in the lock-down zone during the manhunt.
Psychologist Charles Emmrys said it’s important to equip people with coping skills soon after a tragedy so that they can release their grief and help their children deal with the event as well.
“This is a safe community, there are people in the community that make it safe, and we can care for each other and get over this,” Emmrys said.
During Sunday’s service, Reddy said he is also thinking of Bourque’s family. “I can’t help but feel for his family at this time, probably suffering in unbelievable silence,” Reddy said.
Police made a public appeal for help with their ongoing investigation Sunday, asking for any relevant videos or photos people might have taken.
They also asked residents in the city’s north end to look around their properties for evidence.
The Mounties say residents in that part of the city will be interviewed over the coming weeks and they were reminded to stay away from barricades.
An RCMP spokeswoman said Sunday an explosives unit searched Bourque’s home but she wouldn’t say if anything was found, citing the ongoing police investigation.
Police officers from across Canada are expected to attend a parade and regimental funeral service for the three officers on Tuesday at the Moncton Coliseum.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a tweet Sunday, saying: “On Tuesday I will stand with the people of New Brunswick and Canada to mourn the loss of three heroes.”
A public visitation is scheduled to be held Monday for members of the public to pay their respects to the three fallen officers.