MONCTON, New Brunswick (AP) — The suspect in the killing of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police was arrested unarmed early Friday, ending a massive manhunt that paralyzed much of an eastern Canadian city. “I’m done,” a witness said he told police.
Police said at a press conference that they received a tip that led them to a wooded residential part of Moncton, New Brunswick, where they found 24-year-old Justin Bourque, suspected in the deadliest attack on Canada’s national police force in nearly a decade.
Bourque had been armed with high-powered long firearms and had been spotted three times Thursday, eluding the massive manhunt that all but shut down the normally tranquil city about of about 60,000 people east of the Maine border. Nearly 300 police officers were involved in the search for Bourque, who was seen going in and out of a wooded area.
RCMP Supt. Marlene Snowman said Bourque was arrested in a wooded Moncton area at 12:10 a.m. without incident. She said no weapons were on him, but were found nearby. Charges will be brought later Friday.
Michelle Thibodeau said she saw the man arrested in the front yard of her home and heard him say, “I’m done,” before his arrest by officers with guns drawn.
Roger Brown, commanding officer of RCMP in New Brunswick, choked back tears as he addressed media Friday morning.
“Fortunately most people will never have to experience what our officers have gone through in the last two days,” he said. “I can’t dig deep enough to explain the sadness that we all feel.”
Brown identified the dead as Constables David Ross, 32, originally of Victoriaville, Quebec; Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally of Boulogne-Billancourt in France; and Douglas James Larche of Saint John, New Brunswick.
“It’s been a very challenging 30 hours for the officers that got this job done,” Snowman said. “It will take some time to heal, but together we will get there.”
Snowman and other RCMP officials did not release any more details about Bourque’s arrest or the circumstances of the shooting, citing their ongoing investigation. Details will be made public in court, she said.
Police have not spoken about a possible motive for the shootings.
Residents of Bourque’s trailer park said he was a quiet, seemingly reclusive man who shared a small, worn trailer with a roommate. Neighbors described him as a withdrawn gun collector and avid hunter of birds, deer and moose.
“He never missed a season,” said Kerry Fitzpatrick, who lives half a block away from Bourque and was at home when he heard the sound of gunfire. When he later heard Bourque might be the shooter, he walked over to his trailer, found an open door and Bourque’s wallet on the table.
“He lost it. The guy lost it,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said he had stopped by Bourque’s trailer just five days ago.
“He seemed fine, it was a normal conversation,” Fitzpatrick told The Associated Press on Thursday by phone from his home.
Fitzpatrick said Bourque “obviously had things on his mind,” based on a stretch of recent Facebook posts about guns and the police, but did not take it seriously.
During the manhunt, police asked residents of the city’s northwest section to remain indoors with their doors locked and exterior lights on to help the search. Much of Moncton, including its popular downtown area, was completely shut down. Some businesses placed signs in windows saying they were closed because of the manhunt.
Police commandeered armored trucks. The city took its buses off the roads and closed schools and government offices. Mail delivery was suspended.
Dozens of police officers patrolled the search area with their weapons drawn. Others, including members of a tactical unit, were patrolling streets within the cordoned off area.
Police used air support, tactical teams and canine units. Several hundred officers from New Brunswick and elsewhere from across Canada were involved.
Bourque was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter.
Two other Mounties who were injured in the shooting are recovering and doing well, police said.
Gun violence is rare in eastern Canada. This was the deadliest attack on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police since four officers were killed by a gunman on a farm in the western Canadian province of Alberta in 2005. That attack remains the deadliest on Canadian police officers in 120 years.
Canada’s Parliament on Thursday observed a moment of silence and the flag on Parliament Hill flew at half-staff.
Shingler contributed from Montreal. Rob Gillies also contributed from Toronto.