Update: Officials have identified the two police officers killed as Constable Robb Costello and Constable Sarah May Burns. Read more.
FREDERICTON — Gunfire erupted in a quiet residential corner of New Brunswick’s capital city Friday morning, leaving four people dead—including two police officers—and an undisclosed number injured.
Fredericton police said a 48-year-old man was in custody, and there was no further threat to the public, after an incident on the city’s north side that began at about 7 a.m. Friday.
A Fredericton hospital, Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional, “is currently treating multiple victims of today’s shooting,” the local health authority said shortly before noon.
Police said the suspect was also being treated for serious injuries.
Tim Morehouse, a resident of the complex, said he heard someone shout: “Shut up! Shut up!”
He said he heard two gunshots, and then three more. He said he looked out his window and saw the body of a man on the ground, in the back parking lot of 237 Brookside Drive.
“I hear more shots and looked out and there’s two police officers on the ground. I called 911 and they came and checked on them and they were shot,” he said.
David MacCoubrey said he awoke in his Brookside Drive apartment at 7:07 a.m. to the sound of gunshots “10 metres from my bed.”
MacCoubrey said three gunshots woke him up, and as many as 17 more were fired between that time and around 8:30 a.m.
“It sounded like the first one came from right outside my bedroom window… I was hoping for the two seconds that I was groggy that it was kids blowing off firecrackers,” said MacCoubrey in a phone interview from inside his apartment, where he was sitting on the floor away from windows.
“Then two more happened within the first three minutes.”
He said the apartment complex has four buildings in a square, and it sounded like the shots were coming from the middle of the complex.
MacCoubrey said police had searched the buildings and went through his apartment.
“I saw an armoured vehicle out in the courtyard and I opened up my window to see if I could hear anything and the shots started again,” he said.
“I’m not scared in the least. I’m angry. I don’t like the violence… I’m worried for the other people around me.”
Police said the Brookside Drive area would be blocked off for the foreseeable future as “the investigation is ongoing.”
A large group of Fredericton police officers were gathered early Friday afternoon outside the Chalmers hospital, and appeared to be consoling each other. They watched as the hospital’s New Brunswick and Canadian flags were lowered to half-mast.
By Friday afternoon, a memorial of flowers and messages was growing in front of the Fredericton police station. Among the messages: “We love you our brothers and sisters in blue! Thank you for ALL that you do!”
Another read: “Fredericton Police Force, your city has your back!”
Police Chief Leanne Fitch and Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien were scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. AT Friday.
“Our hearts are broken by the murder of our two brave police officers. In this time of shock and grief, let us all protect their families,” O’Brien said in a tweet Friday morning. “Two civilians also tragically lost their lives today. Our city sends its love and support to all. We grieve as one.”
Police said the names of the shooting victims were not yet being released.
“Please appreciate this is a difficult time for their families and our colleagues,” the force tweeted, adding that more information would be released when they’re able.
Many flags around Fredericton were already at half-mast by noon, and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant tweeted his condolences to the victims and their families.
“This tragic event reminds us of the lengths first responders regularly go to in responding to the needs of New Brunswickers. The incredible professionalism and commitment of our local first responders to serve and protect the people of Fredericton during difficult circumstances is to be commended,” he said in a statement.
“This was a senseless tragedy, the impacts of which will be felt throughout the entire province.”
A vigil was to be held Friday evening at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.
“At times like this, we as a city and a province need to draw together for mutual support and comfort,” said Anglican Bishop David Edwards in a statement.
“I encourage people to gather in places that are sacred to them to pray and remember.”
The Fredericton shootings come just four years after another traumatic event for police and the public in another New Brunswick city.
In June 2014, RCMP Constables Doug Larche, Fabrice Gevaudan and Dave Ross were killed in a shooting rampage by Justin Bourque. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were also injured when Bourque went hunting police officers in a Moncton neighbourhood.
There were between six and 11 homicides a year in New Brunswick between 2012 and 2016, according to Statistics Canada.
—With Michelle McQuigge and Gabriele Roy in Toronto and Aly Thomson and Keith Doucette in Halifax.