New Brunswick

Fredericton mayor asks public to 'be patient' as police release few details

Constables Lawrence Robert (Robb) Costello, 45, and Sara Mae Helen Burns, 43, were killed responding to reports of gunfire at an apartment complex on Brookside Drive at 7:10 a.m. AT on Friday.

'One of the worst days in Fredericton's history,' mayor says

Victims of Friday's shooting, from left to right: Const. Lawrence Robert (Robb) Costello, 45, and Const. Sara Mae Helen Burns, 43, Donald Adam Robichaud, 42, and Bobbie Lee Wright, 32.

Editor's note: This story has been restored to the form that it appeared on Aug. 13 until about 7:45 p.m. AT. A court order had been issued that required that details legally obtained from court documents had to be removed. CBC News complied with the court order. However, a judge rescinded the order on Aug. 17, allowing those details to be published again. 


As emotions run high throughout New Brunswick's capital city, details surrounding a shooting that left four people dead — including two police officers — still remain unclear amid rumours and speculation.

Three days after the shooting, Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien wouldn't speak about the investigation being done by RCMP.

Instead, he told the public to "hang in there" and be patient for results.

"The only official word that should ever be trusted [are] the actual police reports and information released by the police," he said.

"Everything else is pure speculation."

WorkSafe NB has confirmed it will conduct a workplace investigation into the deaths of Constables Robb Costello, 45, and Sara Burns, 43, because both are municipal employees. 

"We will be conducting the investigation regarding compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations," Laragh Dooley, acting director of communications, said in an email. 

"Incident investigations can take up to 12 months to complete as this process involves thorough examinations of the incident site, witnesses statements, examination of any tools or equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) present, work procedures and whether the injured worker(s) received adequate training and supervision." 

The investigation is separate than the RCMP's criminal investigation and will only begin when that investigation is done. 

Dooley said WorkSafe NB was told their investigation might be able to begin Monday but wasn't sure. 

Alycia Bartlett, a spokesperson for the Fredericton police, said there will be news conference Monday with police Chief Leanne Fitch at 4:30 p.m. AT. outside the police station.

O'Brien said he understands people are "deeply hurting" and they want answers. But police are "committed" to releasing further information when they can.

"Sometimes information has to be kept until court appearances happen," he said.

Costello and Burns were killed when they responded to reports of gunfire at an apartment complex on the 200 block of Brookside Drive at 7:10 a.m. AT on Friday.

Police initially said they were shot as they approached a man and woman lying on the ground. forty-two-year-old Donald Adam Robichaud, known as Donnie, and  his girlfriend, Bobbie Lee Wright, 32, also died Friday. A court document on Monday revealed that Wright was found in the passenger seat of her car.

It's perhaps one of the worst weekends or days in Fredericton's history.- Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien

Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, of Fredericton, who was shot by police, is in custody and faces four counts of first-degree murder.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 27.

Police still haven't released a photo of Raymond or other information, including what kind of gun, except to say it was a long gun.

The National looks at how the Fredericton shooting unfolded, using information provided by police and witness accounts. 2:06

They would also not say whether the shooter remains in hospital.

"It's perhaps one of the worst weekends or days in Fredericton's history," O'Brien said Monday in an interview Monday about the shootings.

"It hurts deeply."

'A terrible tragedy'

Coun. Bruce Grandy, whose ward includes Brookside Drive, was at his daughter's home on Broad Street when the shootings started.

His son had just finished a shift as a first responder and was sleeping at his home near the shooting.

"I ran over, I could hear the gunshots as I got to my son's place," he said.

A single bunch of carnations lay outside the apartment building where the shooting happened on Friday. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

He went in to lock the door, told his son what was happening and told his grandchildren to stay inside.

When he left the home, the gunshots were still going on.

"It was very, very frightening," he said. "The amount of shots I heard was very concerning."

Grandy said his ward is relatively quiet with little crime.

He has received an outpouring of emails and Facebook messages from residents who live in the area, asking what they can do to support the families of the four people who died.

"It's a terrible tragedy," he said. "There's a lot of people who are very upset, very concerned about what happened."

Evacuees still out of their homes

Some of the 70 people who were forced from their homes after the slayings might be able to return home on Monday, Bill Lawlor, the provincial director of the Red Cross, told Information Morning Fredericton.

He said others may have to wait until Tuesday.

But Lawlor said he's mindful of the investigation and will wait to hear more from police.

"They want to make sure they can get the investigation done and cleanup involved from everything … that was left behind from the spray of bullets," he said. 

Some tenants found temporary homes with friends or relatives, and the Red Cross put others up in hotels.

The organization has been helping 57 individuals and 31 apartment units.

"There's certainly a sense of uneasiness with this particular situation," Lawlor said. "This is not a very common situation."

Returning home to Brookside Drive

Michael Storey returned home briefly to one of the apartment buildings on Brookside Drive to pick up his medication on Monday.

He was escorted by a police office to Building A in the cluster of buildings and described it as "a ghost town."

Storey has been out of his apartment since Friday and was told residents won't be allowed back in until 5 p.m. on Monday.

You couldn't tell where the shooting was coming from because the buildings are in such [a] position it echoes.- Michael Storey, resident

But Storey decided he won't return until Tuesday morning.  

"It's strange to go back in there," he said.

When the gunfire started Friday morning, Storey initially thought it was a dump truck driving past his home. Then police cars swarmed the area and he knew something serious was happening.

"You couldn't tell where the shooting was coming from because the buildings are in such [a] position it echoes," he said.

"I thought I was back in the army."

After the shooting, he was escorted to safety by police behind a nearby funeral home and then to a Tim Hortons.

Community offers its support

Flowers, balloons and messages of support continue to pour in outside the Fredericton police station. (Maria Jose Burgos/CBC)

Residents have been been offering their condolences to the fallen officers outside the Fredericton police station over the weekend — flowers, balloons and messages of hope have been pouring outside the building.

In Fredericton, a book of condolence for the families, friends and colleagues of the two fallen officers will be available in council chambers, at 397 Queen St., starting 10 a.m. Monday.

In Saint John, books of condolences will be available at 1 Peel Plaza, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., also starting Monday.

A regimental funeral will be held to honour the two constables. 

City police and RCMP survey the area of the shooting in Fredericton on Friday. (Keith Minchin/Canadian Press)

The funeral will be held Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. AT at the Aitken University Centre.

'Fredericton is reeling' 

Meanwhile, people in Fredericton are planning to come together and hold hands Monday night starting from the centre of the Bill Thorpe Walking bridge, and spanning as far as possible, on both sides of the St. John River.

"Fredericton, in general, I think the whole city, is reeling from what happened and if we could come together it would be really special and beautiful," Jessica Millier, who is an organizer of the event.  

Millier's husband is an RCMP officer and can't imagine what the families of the two fallen police officers are going through.

"Every time something happens like this across the country, we feel it as a family," she said. "We worry as everyone who's married to someone in the forces would worry."

Millier asked that people start lining up at either side of the bridge starting at 7 p.m. As the line forms across the bridge, it will continue down to the walking trails that run along both sides of the river and residents will face the water. Residents will then be asked to join hands at 7:30 p.m. and hold a three-minute silence.

Two vigils were held on Friday and Saturday night.

Trudeau attends memorial

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau placed flowers Sunday at the memorial outside the Fredericton police station for the two officers killed who were killed in the shooting. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met privately Sunday with the families of the two officers and with the Fredericton Police Force to thank members for their service.

Later in the day, Trudeau placed a bouquet of mixed flowers at the makeshift memorial of flowers, cards, balloons and teddy bears outside the police station.

Clarifications

  • This story has been restored to how it originally appeared on Aug. 13. On Aug. 13, a judge ordered that details obtained through court documents be removed. CBC complied with the order. A judge rescinded the court order on Aug. 17, allowing for the information to be published again.
    Aug 17, 2018 10:40 AM AT

With files from Information Morning Fredericton, Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon