Justin Bourque's father says his son's emotional and mental state deteriorated in the month leading up the deaths of three RCMP officers in Moncton on June 4.

Justin Bourque faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder in those deaths and the wounding of two other officers.

In a written affidavit dated July 3, Victor Bourque states that the problems began about 18 months earlier. "Since that time I noticed him entering into serious depression, emotional and financial instability, which got worse by the month."

He describes Justin as often making no sense and then "ranting and raging against all authority," describing his behaviour two days before the shootings as "paranoia."

Friends of the 24-year-old Bourque and his family describe him as having been a sweet-natured, polite young boy who grew up in a religious family, attended church and was home-schooled.

Dorrie Campbell, whose son Michael was a close childhood friend, recalls Bourque as a happy, fun-loving kid from "a good family."

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At his court appearance in Moncton, N.B. on July 3, Justin Bourque was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment. He returns to court on July 31. (Carol Taylor/Canadian Press)

Dianne LeBlanc, a local church administrator, told the Canadian Press the parents never missed a Sunday service at Christ the King Catholic Church, around the corner from their home. She confirmed that Victor and Denise home-schooled their two sons and five daughters, who were raised with French as their first language.

A close friend and former roommate describes the Bourque family as generous, welcoming and devout Catholics. But that friend, whom CBC News has chosen not to name, says Justin stopped going to church and was drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

Victor writes that he and his wife asked Justin to leave the family home, which he did on Dec. 10, 2012, because of their son's "inappropriate behaviour and his purchase of yet another gun."

Justin moved into a two-bedroom modular home at Ryder Park in Moncton. The unnamed roommate lived there with Bourque for four months last year. He told CBC News that Bourque had some recent financial troubles and that his car was repossessed in the fall.

'A problem with authority'

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Justin Bourque's father, Victor Bourque, says he and his wife asked Justin to leave the family home about 18 months ago, because of their son's 'inappropriate behaviour and his purchase of yet another gun.' (Marc Grandmaison/Canadian Press)

Victor Bourque told the Montreal Gazette in June that the family is "devastated."

He said he and his wife were so concerned about Justin's mental state in the months leading up to the attack that they sought help from police.

But Victor said the police "couldn’t do anything about it and that their hands were tied.”

Based on recent posts to what appears to be his Facebook page, Justin Bourque portrays himself as a gun enthusiast with an anti-authoritarian mindset, a description confirmed through interviews with friends and acquaintances.

The former roommate said Bourque loved his guns, treating them like his "babies."

"He's always seemed to have a problem with authority," Caitlin Isaac, who worked with Bourque at Wal-Mart several years ago, told Business Insider, adding that he had issues "with parents, bosses, police."

She said that Bourque was eventually fired from that job.

Justin Bourque

Justin Bourque, 24, of Moncton, could be facing three consecutive life sentences, with no chance of parole for 75 years for the fatal shooting of three RCMP officers. But some experts are split as to whether his actions should be considered terrorist acts. (Facebook)

His last workplace was Rolly's Wholesale. He worked the night shift but didn't show up the night of the shootings, despite telling his father around 5:00 p.m. that he was going to work, according to Victor Bourque's affadavit.

On the Facebook page, Bourque not only promotes the use of guns, but holds libertarian views and shows hostility toward police and authority in general.

He posted a number of poems and lyrics, such as "Sharpened claws poisoned tip manicure./ Painted skin hiding the beast within./ Daggered heels designed to cut your face./ No remorse crushing the human race."

He also shared images with slogans such as "Free Men Do Not Ask Permission to Bear Arms" and "Militia Is Only a Bad Word if You're a Tyrant."

'It's kind of unbelievable': friend

Trever Finck said he’s been in shock since discovering Bourque, once a close friend, was suspected in the Moncton shootings.

“It’s kind of unbelievable that the guy I used to hang out with is doing something like this right now,” Finck told CBC Radio’s As It Happens on June 5, prior to Bourque's arrest.

Finck said he remembers Bourque as a happy, laid-back guy who didn’t dwell on troubles. He said he’s been to Bourque’s family home and met his parents, who were nice, quiet people.

Despite Bourque’s online criticism of police, Finck said he didn’t think his friend had ever had a major run-in with the law.

Finck told CBC he saw a marked difference in Bourque in February, when Bourque started a new Facebook page and began posting angry anti-police, anti-authority and pro-gun messages.

Friend 'weirded out' by recent encounter

Ann Seamans, the mayor of the small town of Riverview, which is located just south of Moncton, confirmed to CBC News that Bourque once attended Riverview High School.

Mike Campbell, who has known Bourque since they were toddlers and lives down the street from his family, told Business Insider about a recent encounter when Bourque stopped by to offer condolences for the death of Campbell's father.

As Bourque was leaving, Campbell said he made a curious comment: "'You take care, Mike. You have a good life.'"

Justin Bourque, Moncton, RCMP shooting

The father of Justin Bourque said that he and his wife had tried to get help for their son from police but were told “they couldn’t do anything about it and that their hands were tied.” (Viktor Pivovarov/Moncton Times and Transcript, via @RCMPNB/Twitter)

When Campbell said they should keep in touch, Bourque responded, "'That probably won't be able to happen.'"

"I was kind of weirded out by it," said Campbell.

CBC has learned that after Bourque moved to Ryder Park, he began spending increasing amounts of time at a shooting range with friends from a local gun shop.

He was friends with one employee at Worlds End Warehouse, a gun and weapons shop in Moncton's Riverview suburb, according to Dave Ford, who owns Worlds End Warehouse. Ford told CBC News he has never met Bourque and, to his understanding, never sold him any weapons.

A friend of the Bourque family said Justin was interested in the military.

'There should have been flags going off somewhere'

A person who knows Bourque from the trailer park and asked to remain anonymous told the CBC's Dave Seglins that Bourque was working full time and confirmed he lived in the trailer.

The person said Bourque was "very affable, polite. Never had a complaint or a problem. That's why this is totally out of left field."

After seeing Bourque's anti-police posts on Facebook, the person said, "There should have been flags going off somewhere."

Inside Bourque's mobile home, a Globe and Mail reporter found army-themed action figures and a large Confederate flag.

RCMP search

The shootings in Moncton prompted a massive manhunt for the suspect that left the city in a lockdown. (CBC)

Asked whether she could have predicted that Bourque might ever carry out a killing spree, his former Wal-Mart colleague Isaac said she was "surprised, and also not."

"I never took him seriously, but he always said he wanted to go out with a bang and bring people with him," Isaac said.

She recounted a camping trip a while back with Bourque and some of their Wal-Mart colleagues at the time, when he brought a gun.

"He held onto [it] the whole night while drinking. That kind of freaked us out, so we didn't invite him the next time."

Bourque's father told the Gazette he did his best in raising his son.

“For anyone who says you didn’t raise your son right, that would be nothing less than ignorance,” he said. 

“If someone from your family rejects what you taught them, that’s their choice and they live with the consequences."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story named a Worlds End Warehouse employee as a "friend" of Justin Bourque, based on what the store's owner told CBC. The man has subsequently denied he was a friend of Bourque's. This story has been updated to reflect that.
    Sep 04, 2014 2:37 PM AT
With files from Dave Seglins and The Canadian Press