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, 45, and Const. Sarah Burns, 43, and two civilians — a man and a woman — who remain unidentified.
Jackie McLean, Costello’s wife, says a police inspector told the family this morning that her common-law partner was among the dead.
McLean says the couple had been together for four years and Costello has two adult daughters from a previous relationship.
The shooting incident began at about 7 a.m. at an apartment complex on Brookside Drive.
Fredericton police have one person in custody, a 48-year-old man, who was being treated for serious injuries.
Police said the suspect exchanged gunfire with officers. He was later arrested inside an apartment.
Police rushed to the residential complex in the Brookside Drive area at about 7 a.m. local time.
Area resident Justin MacLean witnessed the horrific scene from his home.
“I was sleeping and I heard a bunch of gunshots going off,” he said. “So I looked outside my window and there was a cop there shooting, so I was like ‘OK this ain’t normal.’ I went around to my back window and I saw three bodies laying there.
“It was very traumatic. A very traumatic experience.”
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 his apartment complex has four buildings in a square, and it sounded like the shots were coming from the middle of the complex.
Tim Morehouse, another 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.
He called 911, then he heard more shots and he looked out his window and saw two police officers on the ground.
Police said the area would be blocked off for the foreseeable future as “the investigation is ongoing.”
Residents “scared to death”
Louise Kennedy, 75, who lives with her dog at 237 Brookside Drive, said the shooting began in the building next door at about 7 a.m. AT.
“I am just shaking. I am scared to death,” she said.
“The police were here earlier and wanted me to leave, but I said I couldn’t leave my dog behind. The police officer told me to stay away from the windows and to lock the doors.”
CityNews spoke to a woman who didn’t want to be identified, but said she was startled awake by gunfire.
“I heard rapid gunfire. I knew right away it was gunfire … I thought it was some kind of automatic weapon. I thought should I roll out of bed and get on the floor or what?
“I didn’t, and tried to get back to sleep, but it was only a matter of minutes before I heard it again and again. Finally I got up and saw the police presence.”
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant tweeted his condolences to the victims and their families.
“During this difficult time, our thoughts are also with the courageous women and men on the front lines working to keep us safe,” said Gallant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also released a statement, saying: “Canadians across the country were shocked to wake up to news of the shooting in Fredericton that left four people dead, including two police officers. We mourn with everyone who has lost a friend, colleague, or family member, and wish those injured a speedy and full recovery.
“The people of Fredericton are courageous, strong, and resilient. Canadians stand with you during this difficult time.”
Earlier Friday morning, police had asked people in the area to stay inside with their doors locked, and not to post information on social media about the position or activities of police.
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.”
Three blocks of Brookside Drive had been blocked off, with emergency vehicles at both ends and curious neighbours gathered.
A worker at a business a few blocks from where the shootings are believed to have occurred didn’t want to be identified, but she said police had already cordoned off the area by the time she got to work.
“There’s still an access road out of here but we couldn’t go anywhere near where it’s occurring,” she said. “They (police) have all major intersections cordoned off with emergency vehicles.”
Travis Hrubeniuk, 27, said his fiancee had just left for work around 7:45 a.m. when he began hearing a steady stream of sirens.
The Winnipeg native, who lives immediately off Brookside, said residents have been advised to stay inside with their doors locked.
The quiet residential neighbourhood, dominated by houses, grocery stores, a church and an elementary school, is the last place Hrubeniuk said he expected to encounter a dangerous situation.
“This is the first time I’ve even heard of any serious crime or violent crime in this city,” he said. “It’s a little off-putting that way, and I’ve been here for about a year.”
Bill Henwood, a funeral director at York Funeral Home, spoke to The Canadian Press from behind one of the police road blocks. The business is located inside the cordoned off area on Brookside Drive.
“The lockdown occurred before we were able to get in to work this morning so nobody’s actually in the building,” he said.
Henwood said people are sitting in their cars or just standing near the blockade of police and fire vehicles “hanging tight and waiting for word” on what comes next.
“All the businesses even on the outside of the lockdown area have their lobbies and their business areas closed. They aren’t letting customers in at the moment.”
Henwood said the situation is a shock.
“It’s not something that we expect in Fredericton to wake up and hear about. To see that there’s actually fatalities is pretty extraordinary for this area it doesn’t normally happen.”
Scott Hill lives and works just steps from the crime scene. He woke up to walk his dogs just after 7 a.m., but quickly realized something was amiss when he ran into the superintendent of a nearby golf course.
“The superintendent came up to me and said ‘there’s been a shooting and you should go inside and lock your doors.’ ”
“It’s a small town and it’s very surprising, but I’m not shocked,” he told CityNews. “I read the news and see it happening more often than not.”
A timeline of events in Friday’s deadly shooting in Fredericton. All times in Atlantic time: (The Canadian Press)
7:07 a.m. Local resident David MacCoubrey is awakened by the sound of three gunshots just outside his bedroom window, followed by 17 more gunshots over the next hour.
7:45 a.m. Nearby resident Travis Hrubeniuk hears a steady stream of police sirens along Brookside Drive.
7:47 a.m. Fredericton police send a tweet cautioning people to avoid the area around Brookside Drive due to an “ongoing incident.”
7:53 a.m. Police advise people living in the area to stay in their homes with doors locked.
8:17 a.m. Police tweet that there has been a shooting that caused “multiple fatalities.”
8:31 a.m. Police confirm that four people have been killed in the incident.
9:45 a.m. Police say they have one suspect in custody but continue to keep the area contained while the investigation continues.
9:49 a.m. New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant issues condolences to the victims and their families and urges residents to follow police instructions.
10:12 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sends a tweet saying his “heart goes out” to everyone affected by the shooting.
10:28 a.m. City police confirm that two of their officers are among those killed.
11:05 a.m. Police lift the lockdown on the area and say there is no further threat to the public.
11:22 a.m. Police tweet that the suspect is being treated for serious injuries related to the shooting.