New Brunswick

Slain Fredericton officers leave behind families, spoke of on-the-job dangers

Robert Costello and Sara Burns have been identified as the Fredericton city police officers killed in a Friday morning shooting that left four people dead on the city’s north side.

Robert Costello, 45, and Sara Burns, 43, were among 4 people killed in shooting

Police officers Lawrence Robert Costello, 45, and Sara Burns, 43 were killed in the north-side shooting in Fredericton on Friday morning. (Fredericton Police Force/Twitter)

Lawrence Robert Costello and Sara Burns have been identified as the Fredericton city police officers killed in a shooting Friday morning that left four people dead on the city's north side.

Two civilians are also dead and an unknown number of people were wounded. The identities of the civilians, a man and a woman, have not been released.

Fredericton Police Force Chief Leanne Fitch released the identities of the slain officers during an afternoon news conference.

"It is with great sadness that I'm speaking with you here today," Fitch said. "This the worst moment for any chief of police or any police agency to have to deliver this news."

Costello, 45, was a 20-year veteran of the force who worked on various teams throughout his career, including as a detective.

He is survived by his partner and four children.

His partner, Jackie McLean, said in a tweet addressing the media Friday evening she is "grateful for the outpouring of sympathy" and she will be issuing a formal statement through the police force.

Sara Burns, 43, joined the Fredericton Police Force in 2016 but previously served as an auxiliary officer for two years.

She was married with three children.

A memorial for the two slain officers has popped up at the police station in the city's downtown. (Julia Wright/CBC)

The officers responded to a report of shots fired that came in at 7:10 a.m. Friday, according to Deputy Chief Martin Gaudet.

He said Burns and Costello were the first officers to get to the scene.

Witnesses reported sporadic gunfire between 7 a.m. to about 8:30 a.m. Police confirmed on Twitter that a suspect was in custody at 9:45 a.m.

The Brookside Drive area remained on lockdown for about four hours.

Gaudet said the investigation, which is being handled by the RCMP, is ongoing.

Helped victims of domestic violence

Born in Fredericton, Burns graduated from Fredericton High School and the Atlantic Police Academy. When she was hired, police told reporters how excited they were to have her on patrol because she was from the area.

Earlier this year, Burns and her husband raised money for Liberty Lane, an organization that provides housing for women and children affected by domestic violence.

Fredericton police officer Sara Burns, 43, leaves behind her husband and three children. (Facebook)

In February, while on duty, she had a close call with a man who had a knife. According to newspaper reports, the man threw the knife out of a window and the blade nearly struck Burns.

'We've lost a friend. We've lost a brother'

Costello was previously seconded to the RCMP's Internet child exploitation unit and, in social media posts, often discussed the dangers officers face on the job, especially the Mounties who were gunned down in Moncton four years ago.

One image he reposted said: "If you think it's OK to kill or attack police officers, unfollow me now."

He served as Fredericton-area vice-president for the New Brunswick Police Association. Past president Dean Secord knew him well, saying his death is a "big loss."

He said Costello had a positive, cheerful attitude and was always thinking of others.

"We've lost a friend. We've lost a brother," Secord said.

Veteran Fredericton police officer Lawrence Robert Costello, 45, is survived by his partner and four children.

Shawn Rouse met Costello in Grade 7 while growing up in Sussex Corner. He described him as a kind, athletic individual who made time for everyone.

"He always was the cool guy in class, but he was kind to everybody. Talked to everybody, no matter who you were," Rouse told CBC News.

"I saw Robb always go out of his way to make sure people felt included and no one was made to feel badly. Always stuck up for others. I wasn't surprised to see that he later became an officer."

Rouse said he was "gutted" upon hearing news of his friend's death.

"As someone who was so kind, such an asset to the police force and such a good person, so loved by his friends and family, to see them taken away, I think it hits everyone who knew him very hard," he said.

With files from Karissa Donkin and Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon