Fredericton mourns ‘unthinkable’ shooting one year later

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Fredericton mourns ‘unthinkable’ shooting one year later
WATCH: Fredericton mourns ‘unthinkable’ shooting one year later – Aug 10, 2019

New Brunswick’s capital will mourn and reflect on Saturday as Fredericton marks the one-year anniversary of a shooting spree that claimed the lives of two of the city’s police officers and two civilians.

Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns, both of whom were members of the Fredericton Police Force, were gunned down as they responded to a call of shots fired from a home on Brookside Drive one year ago. Bobbie Lee Wright and Donnie Robichaud were also killed.  

As Saturday began, flags flew at half-mast at the headquarters the Fredericton Police Force while officials and dignitaries across the province the country issued their own statements about the tragedy’s anniversary.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “Today, we remember those who were killed and stand with all those who lives were changed forever that day.”

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Trudeau finished his tweet with #FrederictonStrong a social media hashtag that gained steam in the wake of the shooting in 2018.

Meant to show strength and unity in the wake of the tragic events, #FrederictonStrong quickly brought in tributes from across North America.

Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., recorded a tribute song, to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” called “A Police Hallelujah” in the days after of the incident.

He changed some of the words to reflect incident and sacrifice made by the police officers.

WATCH: Nova Scotia boy sings rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ to remember Fredericton police officers killed during shooting

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia boy sings rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ to remember Fredericton police officers killed during shooting'
Nova Scotia boy sings rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ to remember Fredericton police officers killed during shooting

Kayley Hill, a country music star, wrote and dedicated her song “Story of a Hero” to Const. Burns after she met Burns’ widower at one of her performances in Nashville.

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“To go and sacrifice her life out there is incredible to me,” Hill said. “On top of that, be so committed to the causes that she was passionate about. She was just amazing.”

Burns was a stay-at-home mom before deciding to become a police officer at age 40. She was a committed advocate for raising awareness of mental health and wellness initiatives, domestic abuse and continued education.

Marking a tragedy

Martin Gaudet, deputy chief of the Fredericton Police Force, told Global News on Saturday that it has been a challenging year for everyone on the force and the process of healing has been a slow one.

The force issued a statement to mark the “unthinkable” shooting that left the department shaken, thanking the public for their support.

“Your collective arms wrapped around us as we grieved the loss of our friends and colleagues, and worked to adapt to our new normal,” the force wrote.

“We know that there are still challenges ahead, and there will undoubtedly be more hard times, but through those, we will persevere, knowing that we work in a community of people who care.”

New Brunswick RCMP also issued a statement, urging members of the Fredericton Police Force and family members of the fallen to take “comfort in the love and support from across New Brunswick and beyond.”

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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs issued his own statement on Friday afternoon, commending the “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.

READ MORE: Event planned Saturday to mark anniversary of Fredericton shootings

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

Organizers had hoped to get enough people to link hands across the Bill Thorpe walking bridge over the St. John River last year but were overwhelmed the lines extended along both sides of the river.

Organizer Jessica Millier told The Canadian Press that it was important to hold the event again this year. 

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

With files from the Canadian Press and Graeme Benjamin

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