TORONTO – The grieving process for the New Brunswick RCMP and the families of fallen officers has begun since the manhunt for the suspect in the Moncton shooting ended in the early hours of Friday morning.
At an 8 a.m. press conference, RCMP released the identities of the fallen officers: Constable Dave Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que., Constable Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, from Boulogne-Billancourt, France and Constable Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John, N.B.
The family of Cst. Dave Ross sat together at a press conference in Victoriaville, Que., many with heads bowed and tears streaming down their faces, as they remembered the good moments they shared with the fallen officer.
Ross’s mother Hélène Rousseau said her son, Dave, was a hero, and that she was proud of him. She said she last spoke to him using FaceTime, when he was making steak and bacon on the barbeque. Rousseau said she’d kept up hope when she’d heard two officers were in surgery, but that hope was gone when she learned of his death.
“Our consolation is we’ll see him again one day,” said Rousseau in French, the first to speak at the press conference Friday afternoon.
Ross was described as a very good family man who loved his job, often calling to tell his parents stories about his work. Ross’ mother said he died doing what he loved to do.
“He died a hero,” she said.
Ross’ sister, Cynthia, remembered hunting with her brother, who she said taught her “so many things.” She said he was a good dad who often played with his son.
“I know my brother’s in heaven, watching us…he’d tell us: Stop crying over me,’” she said.
“I just want to say thank you for all your support everybody because we’re going to need your prayers,” said Rousseau in English.
Ross’ mother said she spoke to his pregnant wife Thursday night, and described her as very strong.
“She sent me a text last night. She told me the baby was okay because I was worried about her pregnancy,” said Rousseau in English after the family finished their initial remarks.
“But she’s okay. She’s very strong. We’ll just need a lot of prayers and that will help her.”
Ross’ mother said the couple got married four years ago on May 22, her son’s birthday.
“It was a very happy couple, and they wanted to have four children,” she said in English. “He was a good father, she was a good mom and that’s all I can say.”
READ MORE: Shooting suspect Justin Bourque arrested
The injured officers have been identified as Constable Darlene Goguen and Constable Eric Dubois.
Of the two injured Mounties, they say one has been released from hospital and the other has non-life-threatening injuries.
“This is a trying time for our members as we have lost three of our own and two more are hospitalized,” said Roger Brown, Commanding Officer of RCMP in New Brunswick.
“I commend our members for their dedication and professionalism as they were able to stay focused on the task at hand and getting results throughout this ordeal bringing the situation to a quick end. The work of our members was professional and effective. They deserve my utmost respect.”
Funeral details for the fallen officers have not yet been released, but a memorial was set up at the doorsteps of the local Codiac RCMP detachment in Moncton Friday afternoon. One of the bouquets was wrapped in a ribbon reading, “Fallen heroes.”
See photos of children dropping off flowers at the memorial below:
The search for 24-year-old Justin Bourque ended early Friday morning. He was unarmed at the time of his arrest. Charges are expected to be laid later on Friday.
Brown said Cst. Ross joined the RCMP from Ottawa after graduation in July 2007 and was posted to the detachment based in Moncton as a general duty police officer, and most recently as a police dog services handler.
Cst. Larche was a highway patrol and general duty officer originally from New Brunswick and had been a member of the RCMP for 12 years. He was an investigator with the Codiac General Investigation Section / Major Crime Unit and received a commander’s commendation six years ago for saving the life of an unconscious baby in Moncton.
Brown said Cst. Gevaudan was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France and joined the RCMP in Regina after he got his Canadian citizenship. After his graduation from the training academy on Feb. 11, 2008, Brown said Gevaudan was posted to the detachment in Moncton as a general duty police officer.
Cpl. Danny Falls said while RCMP members were pleased to bring a measure of relief to residents, the force was contending with mixed emotions.
Marlene Snowman, officer in charge of Codiac Regional RCMP, thanked affected residents for their patience and cooperation and said she was extremely “proud” of the officers who worked around the clock to “get the job done.”
“While our members are deeply affected by this tragedy, I am proud of the dedication and professionalism that has been evident throughout this ordeal,” she said in a statement. “We certainly did not do this alone. Our law enforcement partners from across New Brunswick assisted in this search and members of the RCMP arrived from neighbouring provinces, ready to hit the ground.”
“It will take some time to heal but together we will get there. None of us can ever be prepared for this type of situation.”
A video taken by Wade Perry appears to show the arrest of Bourque.
A friend of the suspect said Bourque was very sheltered, home schooled and came from a devout Christian family.
“He’s always had a problem with authority and following rules,” a friend of the suspect, who wished to not be named, told Global News. “He’s not stable at all…he’s not a bad person, he’s just sick.”
“It’s sad, I feel bad for his family.”
In honour of the victims, and as a tribute to all RCMP officers, the CN Tower will be lit Friday in red, blue and gold—colours of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police guidon.
RCMP said Bourque was apprehended and taken into custody in a wooded area near the intersection of Wheeler Boulevard and Mountain Road in Moncton.
Moncton resident Michelle Thibodeau, 21, said she saw the arrest unfold firsthand, and posted her account of events on Twitter:
— UP! 93.1 News (@UP931News) June 6, 2014
“They started yelling, ‘Come out with your hands up!’ and they had their guns loaded,” said Thibodeau.
“About five minutes later, Justin surrendered himself and he said, ‘I’m done,’ and then they arrested him and brought him to my frontyard where they had him sprawled on the ground.”
Moncton, a city of about 69,000, had been at a virtual standstill up until the arrest. Buses were pulled off the roads, government buildings shut down and schools closed as the RCMP scoured the streets for the shooting suspect.
Residents in a cordoned off area were told to stay inside their homes and lock their doors. But shortly after Bourque’s arrest, people were allowed outside their houses and roads that had been blockaded for more than a day were reopened.
Colin Slaunwhite, 24, said his mother was frantic because he had not been able to return home until Friday morning after playing hockey Wednesday.
“Relief. A whole bag full of emotions,” Slaunwhite said after he learned he could return home.
“It is going to take a while for the adrenalin to completely run out and everybody tries to comprehend what happened.”
The shootings in Moncton also brought back memories of an RCMP tragedy in Mayerthorpe, Alta., on March 3, 2005, when Constables Anthony Fitzgerald Orion Gordon, Lionide (Leo) Nicholas Johnston, Brock Warren Myrol and Peter Christopher Schiemann were shot and killed. The suspect was also found dead on the property.
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