MONCTON, New Brunswick - Canadian police say the man suspected of killing three officers in the east coast city of Moncton has been spotted three times but has so far eluded a massive manhunt.
Three police officers were shot dead and two others injured Wednesday in a rare case of gun violence in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, officials said.
Authorities were searching for a suspect and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commander Marlene Snowman said the suspect was spotted in different places around Moncton. The latest sighting was after daylight Thursday morning.
Heavily armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers are combing streets and woods in search of 24-year-old Justin Bourque, who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter. Schools and government offices were closed, and the city pulled its buses off the roads. Mail delivery was suspended.
Police commandeered armored trucks and told residents in the normally tranquil city to stay indoors.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Damien Theriault said police responded to a call Wednesday about an armed man in the north end of the city of Moncton at 7:30 p.m. Three of the officers were killed and two sustained non-life threatening injuries and were in stable condition.
"We are still actively looking for the shooter," Theriault said. "He is believed to still be in the Pinehurst subdivision area of Moncton. We are urging people in that area to stay inside and lock their doors and for people to say away from that area."
Asked how he was dealing with his grief, Theriault said he personally knew the officers before breaking down and excusing himself because he couldn't complete his sentence.
Police said they were looking for 24-year-old Justin Bourque of Moncton a city of about 69,000 people about 95 miles (150 kilometers) northeast of the capital of St. John, New Brunswick. The police force tweeted an image of a suspect wearing military camouflage and wielding two guns.
Danny Leblanc, 42, said he saw the shooter in the distance Wednesday evening, wearing a camouflage outfit and standing in the middle of the street with his gun pointed at police cars.
The construction worker said he believed it was an RCMP officer he was looking at until he heard a burst of automatic gunfire coming from the man's gun.
He said he quickly retreated into his home and remained there with his family. At one point a neighbor posted on social media that their kitchen window was shattered by gunfire.
Leblanc said few people on his normally quiet street were sleeping as they awaited word at midnight on whether arrests had been made.
Word that police had been killed shocked the city, Leblanc said.
"It's devastating. I don't know if he was on a hunt for them, or what," he said.
Police had a number of roads in the city blocked and traffic was backed up on major arteries across the city. Drivers were also asked to stay out of the area.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc urged all residents to pay strict attention to the RCMP warnings.
"It is a terrible tragedy," he said. "We as a city must pull together as a family to support those who have suffered losses."
Such violence is rare in Canada, particularly on Canada's East Coast.
Four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were shot and killed in the western Canadian province of Alberta in 2005 in the deadliest attack on Canadian police officers in 120 years. They had been investigating a farm in Mayerthrope, a small hamlet in Alberta when a man shot them before he was killed.
The Horizon Health Network, a provincial health authority, said two patients were taken to Moncton Hospital with gunshot wounds. Horizon Health said the two shooting victims are in stable condition.
Sean Gallacher, who lives near the area where police were concentrating their search, said he heard what he now believes were gunshots but initially thought his daughter had dropped some toys on the floor above him.
"I was downstairs and heard a few bangs," said Gallacher, 35.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney tweeted that he was "shocked by the tragedy" and that his thoughts and prayers were with frontline RCMP officers.
Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police check the trunk of a taxi at a roadblock in Moncton, New Brunswick on Thursday. A RCMP manhunt for a gunman suspected of killing three Mounties and wounding two others passed the 12-hour mark Thursday in Moncton as a large section of the New Brunswick city was under a virtual siege.×
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Damien Theriault and Mayor George LeBlanc pause to collect themselves before addressing the media during a late night news conference at City Hall in Moncton, New Brunswick on Wednesday. Three police officers were shot dead and two others injured in a rare case of gun violence in the east coast Canadian province of New Brunswick, officials said.×
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.