A New Brunswick Mountie says a violent clash between RCMP and anti-shale gas protesters in Rexton last fall was one of the most volatile situations he's ever faced.
Cpl. Yann Audoux made the comments on Thursday at the Moncton trial of two men charged in connection with the Oct. 17 event on Route 134.
Germain Junior Breau, 21, of Upper Rexton, N.B., and Aaron Francis, 20, of Eskasoni, N.S., both face numerous firearm and assault-related charges.
Audoux, a member of the Emergency Response Team, said he saw some fire and heard Molotov cocktails being thrown when police moved in to enforce a court injunction that prohibited protesters from interfering with the seismic exploration work of SWN Resources Canada.
He saw the first homemade explosive device on the roadway and believed there was a threat of bodily harm to his members.
There was another fireball, then he heard the sock round shots — also known as bean bag rounds, which are a type of non-lethal ammunition.
Used woodpile for cover
Audoux said he stayed behind a woodpile for quite a while. It was a "critical situation," he told the courtroom.
It was "the most volatile situation I've been involved in," he said.
Audoux saw a man dressed in camouflage holding a gun near a van. The tall, thin man seemed very agitated and at one point put the gun at a 45-degree angle, he said.
About 40 people were arrested that day and six RCMP vehicles were destroyed by fire.
Breau is standing trial on 12 charges, including five counts of pointing a firearm at police, five counts of assaulting a police officer with a firearm, possession of a firearm for a dangerous purpose, and obstructing a police officer.
He previously pleaded guilty to uttering threats against a police officer, careless use of a firearm, and breach of probation.
Francis is standing trial on five charges, including intent to do bodily harm by causing an explosive device to explode, placing or throwing at or on a person an explosive substance, possession of explosives while prohibited to do so, committing an offence while having his face masked, and possession of a firearm for a dangerous purpose.
He previously pleaded guilty to to assaulting a police officer, two counts of obstructing a police officer, careless use of a firearm, possessing a firearm while prohibited to do so, and breaching a court order. He also pleaded guilty to assault against a correctional officer while being held in custody and breaching a court order.
Both men have been in jail since their arrest after waiving their bail hearings.