New Brunswick

June 4, 2014: How the tragic night unfolded

As the RCMP trial on Labour Code offences goes on a two-week break, a look at new details that have emerged about how the chilling night unfolded.

Never-heard accounts from Mounties who responded to call are shared in Moncton courtroom

From left, Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John, N.B., Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que., and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, from Boulogne-Billancourt, France, were killed in Moncton, N.B., on June 4, 2014. (RCMP)

The first panicked 911 call came in at 7:18 p.m. A man dressed in camouflage was walking down a Moncton street with a gun.

Immediately, all officers inside the local RCMP detachment were dispatched to the city's north end.

Const. Mathieu Daigle was one of the first to spot Justin Bourque.

Bourque walked slowly, as if hunting, taking time to stop, look around and listen. He seemed "angry."

This was June 4, 2014. In powerful and at times emotional testimony, many details have emerged this month about the chilling night in Moncton when three Mounties were slain and two others were wounded.

Whether the RCMP properly protected its members is at the heart of a trial that began five weeks ago in the city. The national force is accused of violating the Canada Labour Code.

With Bourque choosing to plead guilty to the killings, avoiding trial, the RCMP case has offered the public its first chance since the shootings to learn what happened from officers who were on the ground.

The first gunshots

Const. Daigle, after spotting Bourque, started trailing him.

"We have a man with a rifle, we don't know what his intentions are, what state he's in," he remembered thinking. "We have to make contact with him."

At that point, Constables Fabrice Gevaudan and Rob Nickerson were there.

Daigle said "Hey" to Bourque, who immediately turned around. His rifle came down, and shots started coming at police.

Justin Bourque went in and out of the woods near these houses in Moncton's north end, as he tried to hide from police. (CBC)

Daigle ran for cover but lost track of his friend and colleague Gevaudan.

"Fabrice, are you OK?" he asked over the radio.

"I screamed his name," Daigle said. "He wasn't answering."

A few moments later, Daigle found Gevaudan lying on the ground.

He dragged him inside a resident's garage, out of the line of fire, and started CPR, he recounted through tears. But it was too late. Gevaudan was dead.

'I'm going high risk'

Meanwhile, Nickerson heard Const. Dave Ross say he had Bourque in sight.

"I'm going high risk," Ross said over the radio.

Nickerson soon found a trail of blood and Ross's lifeless body. He had been shot in the face, in the driver's seat of his unmarked vehicle, only two minutes after Bourque killed Gevaudan.

Const. Dave Ross was shot and killed while in his vehicle. (Courtesy of Daniel St Louis)

Const. Eric White arrived and locked eyes with Bourque. 

Bourque raised his rifle to fire at him.

"I felt liked everything slowed down," said White, who took cover behind Ross's bullet-riddled SUV. Ross's body was slumped over the wheel.

White watched Bourque through the smashed rear window of the shot-out SUV. He could see Bourque scanning for him.

"I knew I couldn't do anything," White said.

Eventually, he lost sight of Bourque. He removed Ross from the SUV and carried him to a backyard.

'He's shooting at me. Help me.'

Five minutes later, Const. Martine Benoît rushed to where she'd heard reports of shots being fired.

She sat in her police cruiser with her hand on the door, debating what to do. That's when the hail of bullets started.

The shots were coming from the front of her vehicle.

"I could see smoke," she said.

Benoît ducked down and tried to put the cruiser into reverse but it wouldn't move.

RCMP Const. Martine Benoît described being under a hail of bullets, unable to drive away and unsure if anyone heard her call for help. (CBC)

She didn't understand why she was alone. That's when Const. Eric Dubois heard her desperate plea.

"He's shooting at me, he's shooting at me. Help me, help me," Dubois recalled Benoît saying over the radio.

Dubois rushed to assist her.

"At that point, I didn't think about my security at all," he recalled before he began to cry. "I just wanted to get there and do the best I can. I'm going to do whatever is needed, even give my life."

They both got out of their vehicles and took cover behind Dubois's car.

Then Dubois peeked out from behind it, trying to locate Bourque, and was shot.

The RCMP is on trial in Moncton for alleged safety violations related to the slaying of three Mounties and the wounding of two others. The trial is taking a two-week break. (Courtesy of Daniel St. Louis)

"I could see the hole in my pants and shirt and the blood coming out," he said.

Dubois was only armed with his duty pistol. He didn't even try to take a shot at Bourque.

"It was more than obvious I was going to miss the target," he said. "It's not a movie, it's reality. When you shoot, you shoot because you're sure."

'I think he's out for us'

With two of his colleagues down, and none of the curious citizens milling about injured, Nickerson realized Bourque was targeting police.

"I think he's out for us," he recalled telling his partner.

He took off his uniform shirt so he wouldn't be recognized as an officer.

He even tried to remove the stripes from his pants but couldn't.

It was around that time that a call came over the police radio that someone else was down.

Const. White followed directions from a pedestrian to find people crowded around a body covered with a sleeping bag.

"It's one of yours," a citizen told him.

It was Const. Doug Larche. White and a civilian dragged Larche's body off the street to a nearby house.

An ambulance was offered, but it was too late.

Larche was shot at 8:07 p.m., exactly 20 minutes after Bourque gunned down the first officer.


Gabrielle Fahmy is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been a journalist with the CBC since 2014.