Police officers who are struggling after deadly Fredericton shooting urged to seek mental health support

Hours after a fatal shooting in Fredericton killed at least four people, including two police officers, a Canadian Police Association board member says the board is urging officers across the country to seek mental health support if they need it.

4 confirmed dead, including 2 police officers, after early morning shooting in Fredericton

Bruce Chapman, Police Association of Ontario president and a Canadian Police Association board member, says the news of the shooting hit him in the gut. (Radio-Canada)

Hours after a fatal shooting in Fredericton killed at least four people, including two police officers, a Canadian Police Association board member says the board is urging officers across the country to seek out mental health support if they need it.

"Your first reaction is like you've been punched in the stomach. It hits you in the gut," said Bruce Chapman, who sits on the board of directors for the Canadian Police Association.

"It's shocking, it's tragic and it's terrible news for everybody in the country, in the world."

A suspect is in custody and being treated for serious injuries after the early morning shooting in a residential area of Fredericton on Friday.

Chapman, who is also the president of the Police Association of Ontario, was one of several national police leaders in Winnipeg on Friday for a meeting of the Canadian Association of Police Governance.

Flowers and messages are gathering outside the police station in downtown Fredericton. (Julia Wright/CBC)

The group observed a moment of silence Friday morning for the four people confirmed dead in the shooting.

Chapman urged any police officers struggling as a result of the shooting, or any incident they've been involved in, to seek out mental health supports.

"As police officers and family of police officers, there's signs and signals that you can recognize to help those in need," he said.

"We also encourage those who may be suffering to reach out for help so that we can help you get the support that you need moving forward."

Tight-knit police community

Mary Anne Silverthorn, president of the Canadian Association of Police Governance Directors, said she learned of the shooting on the news Friday morning.

"We take that very seriously, because we're always concerned about the people on the street and their safety," she said.

"These are usually men and women who have families and small children and that's very difficult to deal with."

Silverthorn said Canada's policing community is tight-knit and reacting with sorrow and support for Fredericton officers.

Steve Craig, a Halifax city councillor and chair of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners, said officers who responded to the tragedy demonstrated the strength of professionalism and training police have developed in recent years.

"It's sad that we find ourselves doing this more and more frequently."