Fredericton residents displaced by shooting say home will never be the same
Tenants of Brookside Drive apartment complex where 4 people were killed Friday allowed back home Tuesday
Fredericton residents displaced by the deadly shooting on the city's north side last Friday were allowed back home on Tuesday, but many say it will never be the same.
Calvin Cole, 28, who witnessed the shooting that claimed the lives of two city police officers and two civilians, says if he could afford to live anywhere else, he would leave the apartment complex at 237 Brookside Dr.
"If it wasn't for subsidized housing, I'd be going already. I don't want to be here."
Cole says he watched from his basement apartment bedroom window, which overlooks the courtyard between the four low-rise apartment buildings, as police fired tear gas into the apartment two stories above him, in Building C.
'We were standing right here, police running back and forth," he said.
"At first it sounded like it was echoing, so it was hard to tell, till I looked out the window and I could see some of the reflections from the building and I could tell the main windows from here were vibrating each time I heard pops."
Const. Robb Costello, 45, and Const. Sara Burns, 43, who were the first to arrive on scene after the Fredericton Police Force received reports of gunfire, were shot and killed trying to help two civilians lying on the ground.
Donnie Robichaud, 42, and Bobbie Lee Wright, 32, also died.
The accused gunman, Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 27.
Brian Robison, who lives in Building B, was at work during the shooting, but he's still struggling to come to terms with what happened after he saw blood in front of Building C when he was allowed to retrieve his cat on the weekend.
"I still see the blood on the sidewalk, right? I still see it, it's not a nice image."
There's a large patch of fresh pavement at the complex. According to witnesses, it's to cover up the blood. They say that's where all four victims died.
Aban Agylar, who works for Sunfield apartments, said they've been working around the clock on repairs so the approximately 70 displaced residents could safely return.
"We replaced a lot of frames on the doors that the police broke down. There are probably about 20 frames that they broke, nine or 10 doors busted up."
The window from which the gunman shot is sealed and the apartment door is boarded up. Bullet holes that still bear police markers A, B and C, are taped over.
John Stewart, who lives in the same building as the shooter, said the tragedy has pulled residents closer together.
"I didn't even know half the people who lived here before, and I know everyone now," he said. "I mean it's probably for two reasons, because of this, and because we want to know who is in our community now, so."
Community barbecue planned
The tenants are planning a community barbecue to thank everyone who came to their aid and to raise money for the Red Cross, said Stewart.
"We're going to give it a couple of days for everyone to get settled and back home and it probably won't be until next weekend, but we're going to do it," he said.
"We encourage the police to come and even Tim Hortons [employees] to come because everyone was insanely supportive and helpful."
The Red Cross dealt with 66 people from the four apartment buildings and a few nearby houses that were evacuated for safety reasons as police responded to the shooting and later gathered evidence, said spokesman Dan Bedell.
Red Cross staff from Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton and nine Fredericton-area volunteers helped arrange hotel rooms for 53 people, while the other 13 displaced residents stayed with family or friends, he said.
Although the emergency assistance operation officially ended on Tuesday, if any tenants are unable to return to their apartments while awaiting repairs, Red Cross support maybe extended on a case-by-case basis, if approved by the city, said Bedell.
The city's Emergency Measures Organization will cover the cost of the assistance provided to its citizens, he said.
With files from Catherine Harrop