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Event planned Saturday to mark anniversary of Fredericton shootings

Mourners join hands as thousands of people hold hands to remember the Aug. 10, 2018, shooting victims by joining hands on the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge in downtown Fredericton on Monday, August 13, 2018. Hands and Hearts Across the City, an event held just days after the shootings, will be held again Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

A year after New Brunswick’s capital was shaken by a shooting spree that claimed four lives, residents of Fredericton are planning to again honour the victims and show support for their community.

Hands and Hearts Across the City, an event held just days after the Aug. 10 shootings, will be repeated Saturday.

“We are doing this because we want to honour those that we lost last Aug. 10 in the tragic shooting on the northside,” said organizer Jessica Millier.

READ MORE: Fired lawyer remains on as friend of the court in Fredericton shooting case

Constables Sarah Burns and Robb Costello were gunned down when they responded to a call of shots fired. The civilian victims were Donnie Robichaud and Bobby Lee Wright.

Last year organizers hoped to get enough people to link hands across the Bill Thorpe walking bridge over the St. John River but were overwhelmed when the lines extended along both sides of the river for quite a distance.

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Millier said it was important to hold the event again.

“It’s more than just honouring the families, it’s honouring everyone who was involved,” Millier said.

“All the police that were impacted, all the people at the hospital, (Emergency Medical Technicians), everyone is still struggling. There are still some people who have not gone back to work because of what happened. There are reasons to come together and show support.”

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Another organizer, Denise Coulombe, said they hope to get enough people to complete the loop by linking hands across the Westmoreland Street bridge as well.

“A few moments before 7 p.m. we will be launching the four fireworks. After the fourth one, there will be one minute of silence. Once the minute of silence is over a fifth firework will be launched,” Coulombe said.

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Live entertainment is planned for the rest of the evening at the north end of the walking bridge.

Millier said while the event is meant as a show of support for families and the community, she also hopes it sends a message to the rest of the world.

“I want everyone to know that this is what the world should be like. This is what cities should be like. When something happens, especially with the gun violence that we see in the world and the crazy stuff that’s going on, we need to stand up to that and show the world that it’s not OK,” she said.

READ MORE: Matthew Raymond makes another court appearance in Fredericton

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs issued a statement Friday afternoon, saluting the “strength, compassion and kindness” shown in response to the killings.

“This terrible incident left the City of Fredericton and our entire province in shock. In some ways, we still are. This is something we never expected to happen in our neighbourhoods, to people we know,” Higgs wrote.

“Together, we have grieved. And together, we have begun to heal.”

Matthew Raymond is charged with four counts of first-degree. He is expected to face trial starting Sept. 30.

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