As far as mass shootings go, this one was personal.
Sadly, Prince Edward Islanders, like everyone today, have become far too accustomed to hearing of senseless mass shootings. Names like Sandy Hook, Columbine and Mayerthorpe quickly come to mind. Add to that list Moncton.
All the violent incidents have one thing in common — the murder of innocent human beings. There is also usually a common thread among the perpetrators; they’re loners who come unhinged mentally and wreak revenge against perceived wrongs on the people around them.
This one was close.
Prince Edward Islanders and New Brunswickers are neighbours, separated by a narrow body of water.
Moncton is easily within reach for Islanders. We shop there, we play there, some of our family members and friends have settled there. It’s about as close to living on Prince Edward Island as you can get without being too far away from home.
This one really hurt.
Gone from our midst are three protectors: Const. David Ross, 32, originally of Victoriaville, Que.; Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally of Boulogne-Billancourt in France; and Const. Douglas James Larche of Saint John, N.B. In addition, two other RCMP constables, Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois, were injured by the shooter.
But also lost is a sense of security, a belief that such things just don’t happen in this region, especially in a small, friendly city like Moncton. But lightning can strike anywhere, and on Wednesday night it struck with devastating consequences in Moncton.
Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, the RCMP’s commanding officer in New Brunswick, says it will take time for the department to heal. But he is confident the RCMP will rally around the families of the fallen and the injured officers.
It will also take time for Monctonians, indeed all New Brunswickers, to heal. The nerve-racking search for the shooter lasted nearly 30 hours and resulted in a large swath of northwestern Moncton being locked down with residents asked to remain inside their homes.
One thing that will help is the outpouring of support they are receiving from all over the globe as people try to make sense out of the senseless. The CN Tower was lit Friday night in honour of the three officers who died. The landmark in downtown Toronto glowed in red, blue and gold, the colours of the RCMP guidon.
P.E.I. peace officers, like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms across the country, are feeling the pain. In fact, some of our police officers — from the RCMP and Charlottetown and Summerside police services — were on the scene in Moncton helping local authorities.
RCMP detachments across P.E.I. were flooded Friday with a show of support from Islanders. Staff Sgt. Mark Crowther, the Queens District Commander, says “it’s been wonderful.” Horns were blowing, flags were lowered, flowers were delivered and a large number of people dropped in on detachments with gifts, cards and food items, all in an effort to show appreciation for the law enforcement community.
Ultimately, Moncton will move on, thanks to the faith citizens have in their community and its future.
In the coming days and weeks, Prince Edward Islanders need to keep our neighbours in mind in their time of need. After all, that’s what good neighbours always do.
This one felt very personal, very close and it hurts.