Fredericton police have identified two police officers who were among four people killed in a shooting Friday morning in a residential area on the city's north side.
Police Chief Leanne Fitch says the victims include Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns, 43, and two civilians - a man and a woman - who remain unidentified.
“This is the worst moment for any chief of police in any police agency to have to deliver this news,” Fitch told a news conference.
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 they have a 48-year-old Fredericton man in custody who was being treated for serious injuries. They would not reveal what kind of firearm was used.
Jackie McLean, Costello's common-law partner, says a police inspector told the family the news Friday morning.
“He loved being a police officer and he lived for being a police officer,” she told The Canadian Press in an interview. “He is the only police officer who I have ever known who could write someone a ticket and have the person thank them after.”
She said Costello, 45, had left their home at 6 a.m. Friday for an early shift.
“He used to always say to me that it did not matter what happened, that he would always come home â€¦ and this is the first day that he has not home,” she said.
The shooting incident began at about 7 a.m. at an apartment complex on Brookside Drive.
Tim Morehouse, a resident of the neighbourhood, said he was in his apartment when 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.”
McLean said she and Costello had been living together for five years. He has two adult daughters from a previous relationship, she said, adding that the entire family is in shock.
“One thing that Robb was very adamant about was that if something ever to happen to him he did not have a sad funeral, he wanted to have a party with lots of laughs and happy memories,” she said. “I am hoping that we will be able to put something like that together.”
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!”