MONCTON, N.B. – A Mountie remembered standing alone in a school parking lot “waiting to be shot again” after being caught in the crossfire of Justin Bourque’s shooting rampage.
Const. Martine Benoit told the RCMP’s Labour Code trial Wednesday that she couldn’t recall anyone being in charge as confused officers scrambled to respond to the June 2014 Moncton massacre that left three Mounties dead and two others wounded.
Benoit said smoke billowed from her engine as Bourque fired multiple rounds into her police cruiser.
“It was kind of a chaos situation,” Benoit told Moncton provincial court. “My engine was gone. I couldn’t go anywhere.”
Benoit said she called for back-up, but wasn’t sure if the radio transmission went through because her vehicle was so damaged.
She testified that another officer, Const. Eric Dubois, came to her aid and they took cover behind his car. As the gunfire resumed, Dubois told her that Const. Fabrice Gevaudan had died, said Benoit.
“There was bullets flying everywhere.” she said. “(Dubois) was upset, obviously. We had just lost a member and he wanted to get the suspect.”
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Dubois kept popping up from behind the car to get a better eye on Bourque. Benoit said she told him to get down, then she saw blood running down his arm.
Dubois fled to the Hildegard Fire Station, where officers who had escaped the line of fire set up a staging area. Benoit said she was too afraid to go out in the open, but another officer came to escort her to the station.
“I don’t recall that anyone was in charge at that point,” she said. “There was a lot of members trying to figure out what they needed to do.”
Benoit said Cpl. Lisa Whittington urged her to take her hard-body armour (HBA), but she resisted.
“We were arguing on who was going to take the HBA that they had there,” Benoit recounted. “She says, ‘Well, you have kids.’ And I said, ‘Well you have kids too.”‘
Eventually, Benoit put on the equipment.
Over the radio, Benoit said she heard that the shooter had been spotted near Ayer Avenue and Preston Crescent, about 2.5 kilometres away from where the last shooting took place.
Benoit told the court that she questioned how the shooter could have moved so quickly, but she jumped into another police cruiser and drove to the scene.
Court heard that she stood alone in a school parking lot, waiting for instructions from dispatch as night fell.
“I was scared because I didn’t know where he (the shooter) was,” she said. “I was waiting to be shot again.”
Benoit said she was briefly joined by another officer, but then another call came in, and they had to leave. Again, Benoit was alone, she said.
The RCMP is accused of failing to provide members and supervisors with the appropriate information, instruction, equipment and training in an active-shooter event.
Bourque, who was targeting police in an effort to start an anti-government rebellion, was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
© 2017 The Canadian Press