FREDERICTON—Fredericton police say two officers were among four people who died in a shooting Friday morning in a residential area on the city’s north side.
One person was in custody, and there was no further threat to the public, police said.
A Fredericton hospital, Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional, “is currently treating multiple victims of today’s shooting,” the local health authority said shortly before noon.
Police said the suspect was also being treated for serious injuries.
Officers went to a residential complex at about 7 a.m. Friday.
David MacCoubrey said he awoke in his apartment on Brookside Drive at 7:07 a.m. to the sound of gunshots “10 metres from my bed.”
MacCoubrey said three gunshots woke him up, and as many as 17 more were fired between that time and around 8:30 a.m.
“It sounded like the first one came from right outside my bedroom window… I was hoping for the two seconds that I was groggy that it was kids blowing off firecrackers,” said MacCoubrey in a phone interview from inside his apartment, where he was sitting on the floor away from windows.
“Then two more happened within the first three minutes.”
He said his apartment complex has four buildings in a square, and it sounded like the shots were coming from the middle of the complex.
Tim Morehouse, another resident of the complex, said he heard someone shout: “Shut up! Shut up!”
He said he heard two gunshots, and then three more. He said he looked out his window and saw the body of a man on the ground, in the back parking lot of 237 Brookside Drive.
“I hear more shots and looked out and there’s two police officers on the ground. I called 911 and they came and checked on them and they were shot,” he said.
Police said the area would be blocked off for the foreseeable future as “the investigation is ongoing.”
A large group of Fredericton police officers were gathered early Friday afternoon outside the Chalmers hospital, and appeared to be consoling each other. They watched as the hospital’s New Brunswick and Canadian flags were lowered to half-mast.
Police Chief Leanne Fitch and Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien were scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. AT Friday.
“Our hearts are broken by the murder of our two brave police officers. In this time of shock and grief, let us all protect their families,” O’Brien said in a tweet Friday morning.
Police said the names of the shooting victims were not yet being released.
“Please appreciate this is a difficult time for their families and our colleagues,” the force tweeted, adding that more information would be released when they’re able.
Many flags were already at half-mast by noon around Fredericton, and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant tweeted his condolences to the victims and their families.
“During this difficult time, our thoughts are also with the courageous women and men on the front lines working to keep us safe,” said Gallant.
Louise Kennedy, 75, who lives with her dog at 237 Brookside Drive, said the shooting began in the building next door at about 7 a.m.
“I am just shaking? I am scared to death,” she said.
“The police were here earlier and wanted me to leave, but I said I couldn’t leave my dog behind. The police officer told me to stay away from the windows and to lock the doors.”
Sarah Williams, who lives close to where the shootings occurred, said she awoke to loud sounds. She said she heard between 10 and 20 shots.
“I was woken up by what I thought was fireworks. There was three to five minutes between the first shots I was hearing and that’s kind of when I knew it wasn’t fireworks,” she said.
Earlier Friday morning, police had asked people in the area to stay inside with their doors locked, and not to post information on social media about the position or activities of police.
MacCoubrey said police had searched the buildings and went through his apartment.
“I saw an armoured vehicle out in the courtyard and I opened up my window to see if I could hear anything and the shots started again,” he said.
“I’m not scared in the least. I’m angry. I don’t like the violence… I’m worried for the other people around me.”
Three blocks of Brookside Drive had been blocked off, with emergency vehicles at both ends and curious neighbours gathered.
Travis Hrubeniuk, 27, said his fiancee had just left for work around 7:45 a.m. when he began hearing a steady stream of sirens.
The quiet residential neighbourhood, dominated by houses, grocery stores, a church and an elementary school, is the last place Hrubeniuk said he expected to encounter a dangerous situation.
“This is the first time I’ve even heard of any serious crime or violent crime in this city,” he said. “It’s a little off-putting that way, and I’ve been here for about a year.”
Bill Henwood, a funeral director at York Funeral Home, spoke to The Canadian Press from behind one of the police road blocks. The business is located inside the cordoned off area on Brookside Drive.
“The lockdown occurred before we were able to get in to work this morning so nobody’s actually in the building,” he said.
Henwood said people were sitting in their cars or just standing near the blockade of police and fire vehicles “hanging tight and waiting for word” on what comes next.
“All the businesses even on the outside of the lockdown area have their lobbies and their business areas closed. They aren’t letting customers in at the moment.”
Henwood said the situation is a shock.
“It’s not something that we expect in Fredericton to wake up and hear about,” he said. “To see that there’s actually fatalities is pretty extraordinary for this area. It doesn’t normally happen.”
Jessica Simmonds, who works at The Preschool Centre daycare, said 48 children from one location near the shootings were taken to another location.
The daycare located on Main Street is less than a three-minute drive from the area where the shooting took place.
She said the children were watching a movie, while others were playing with toys.
“We are not in the area, but we are only keeping our doors locked as a precaution,” she said.
She said the parents were welcome to come and get their children if they wished to, and many had already done so.
—With Michelle McQuigge and Gabriele Roy in Toronto and Aly Thomson and Keith Doucette in Halifax.News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016