New Brunswick

More details from apartment complex where fatal shooting occurred

Even before the Aug. 10 shootings, it was sometimes hard to get a good night’s sleep at 237 Brookside Dr.

As residents return to modest brick apartments on Fredericton's north side, traces of trauma remain

The four-unit apartment complex at 237 Brookside Dr. before police barricades were taken down. On Tuesday, residents were allowed to return home — and start sorting through last Friday's traumatic events. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Even before the Aug. 10 shootings, it was sometimes hard to get a good night's sleep at 237 Brookside Dr.

The apartments are affordable — about $625 a month for a two-bedroom — but the four modest brick buildings don't offer much of a buffer between neighbours.

The buildings, which contain some subsidized units, are arranged around a square courtyard, shaded by two large maple trees, where people smoke and socialize in nice weather.

An aerial view of the Brookside Drive apartments, scene of the shooting where four people, including two Fredericton police officers, died. (Julia Wright / CBC)

It was normal to hear "people coming and going, argument[s] when they get out of their car," said Joyce Sullivan, who lives on the top floor of Building C.  

"It's a typical apartment complex with [70] people. You're going to have that."

The courtyard around which the four apartment buildings A, B, C and D are loosely arranged. (Catherine Harrop / CBC)

The night of Aug. 9  had been damp, warm, and even rowdier than usual. The noise was "just horrible," said Sullivan, who said she'd tossed and turned all night.

"Sounds echo in the dampness."

But shortly after sunrise on Aug. 10, the complex would reverberate with something far worse than the normal sounds of apartment living.

From bedroom window to parking lot

The sound Sullivan and other residents at first believed to be a car backfiring, or neighbourhood kids playing with cheap fireworks, was actually gunshots.

According to eyewitnesses, the shots were being fired from the top floor of Building C, in a unit overlooking the courtyard and the rear parking lot.

The gunman, residents said, was allegedly inside the the corner apartment, shooting southwest from a small bedroom window into the parking lot behind Building D.

Shots were fired out of the top-floor bedroom window of Building C, according to witnesses, as well as eastward into Building A across the courtyard. (Catherine Harrop / CBC)

Caught in that gunfire was Donnie Robichaud, who had just moved into the building a few months prior. He and his girlfriend, Bobbi-Lee Wright, were in the parking lot, packing up Wright's car for a weekend trip.

David MacCoubrey, a neighbour, was awakened by the shots and called 911 but was told police were already on their way.

Shortly after 7 a.m., Constables Sara Burns and Robb Costello arrived — and were also fatally shot.

The rear parking lots of buildings C and D, into which the fatal shot were fired that hit Constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns, as well as civilian victims Donnie Robichaud and Bobbi-Lee Wright. (Catherine Harrop / CBC)

Neighbour Justin McLean in Building D said he looked out his back window and saw three bodies lying on the ground in the parking lot.

Police were trying to put one of their officers in their vehicle.

"So, I went out and tried to help them, and that's when the shooter proceeded to shoot again," he said.

Shooting in two directions

The alleged shooter was also firing east into Building A.

Parisa Motallebikia, who lives in Building A on the ground floor facing the alleged shooter's living room window, said she and her husband looked out the window after hearing shots.

They saw a man standing in the apartment, shouting at her and her husband and brandishing a gun.  

"Our windows broke, and the bullets passed from the wall and go to my son's bed. In front of my son's bed," she said.

Parisa Motallebikia and her husband, Mojdava, who live in Building A facing the alleged shooter’s living room window, said she and her husband looked out the window after hearing shots and saw a man brandishing a weapon. (Catherine Harrop / CBC)

Sullivan and other residents were woken by police knocking at the door — then breaking it down.

"Then it was knock, knock, knock, I run and looked out my peephole, I saw the two [police] men on knees with their guns toward door 11. I run like mad back to get dressed, and while I was in there my door was busted out by another policemen."

Sullivan was escorted out of her apartment by officers, who shielded her with their bodies before she was loaded into an armoured vehicle and taken off the property.

One hour— four deaths

Other residents were still in their apartments, watching the chaotic scene unfolding outside.

From his basement apartment, Justin McLean could see police officers outside Building C — and the barrel of a gun hanging out the window.

"I woke up to hearing multiple gunshots outside my window," McLean said. "I looked outside my window and there was a cop standing there with a rifle. ... When I looked up, I could see the barrel of his gun outside the top window."

Justin Mclean said he woke up to the sound of gunshots. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

By 8:17 a.m. — just over an hour since the first shots were heard — four people were dead.

The shooter continued to fire, according to residents and reporters, as police approached the apartment building, firing what eyewitnesses said appeared to be tear gas at a window.

After that, the shots continued sporadically.

"A few more shots started going off and a few more here and there," said David MacCoubrey. "Then it went downhill for 20 minutes there were no shots, then for five more shots went off. Then it was quiet for a half hour, then there were two more shots where I believe they took down the suspect."

The shots continued sporadically, said MacCoubrey, with periods of silence for as long as 20 minutes, then a series of five more shots, then another silence followed by two shots. That's when he believed officers 'took down' the suspect. (Catherin Harrop / CBC)

Residents were loaded into an armoured vehicle and police cars  — some still dressed in pyjamas, others without shoes. Some residents took refuge in front of a Tim Hortons that was under lockdown. Later, others were taken to the York Funeral Home at 302 Brookside Dr.

While they were safe, the ordeal was just beginning.

A suspect was shot by police and taken to hospital with serious injuries — and the apartment complex was cordoned off with police tape. The suspect, Matthew Vincent Raymond, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Surveying the damage

Police Chief Leanne Fitch announced on Monday that police had finished gathering physical evidence at 237 Brookside Dr.

On Tuesday, residents were allowed back into their apartments.

According to Aban Agylar, who works for the property management company, crews worked all night to replace the door frames broken down during the police operation — a total of 20 frames, and nine or 10 doors broken down.

Construction crews were at work on Tuesday taping bullet holes, fixing door frames, and boarding up windows smashed during the police operations on Friday. (Catherine Harrop / CBC)

The picture window of the alleged shooter's apartment was boarded over on Tuesday. Bullet holes in a window of Building A have been stabilized with tape.

But apart from the sounds of minor construction Tuesday, things were still quieter than usual.

Crews use a ladder to seal a smashed window in the corner unit of Building C, from which the shots were allegedly fired. (Catherine Harrop / CBC)

Some residents returned to take stock of the damage — and attempted to settle back into their daily routines.

Other are still staying clear, too disturbed to return.

For some, like Brian Robison, the scene is still a powerful reminder of a trauma from which it will take a long time to recover.

"I still see the blood on the sidewalk right?

"It's not a nice image."

About the Author

Julia Wright

Information Morning Saint John host

Julia Wright is a lifelong Saint Johner and the host of Information Morning Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.