Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains
FREDERICTON — Residents of the Fredericton apartment complex that was the scene of Friday’s deadly shooting spree are being allowed back into their homes, but many are already thinking about moving out.
Four people were gunned down at a four-building complex on Brookside Drive in the city’s north end.
Bobbie Lee Wright and Donnie Robichaud died in the shooting, along with responding officers Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns of Fredericton police.
Joseph Cartwright was at work that morning when he got the call from his girlfriend to say that there was gunfire and she and Cartwright’s four-year-old son were scared.
“I bolted from work. I couldn’t get any closer than the Tim Horton’s. I could hear the shots and I could see the apartment building but I couldn’t get here. As a parent that’s probably the worst feeling in the world, knowing there’s somebody shooting where your four-year-old son is,” Cartwright said Tuesday.
They were not in the same building as the shooter, but were only a few metres away. Police were able to get them safely out of harm’s way.
Cartwright said police kicked in the doors of a number of apartments in order to gain entry, but maintenance staff have since made repairs.
Other buildings still bear the scars of the tragedy. A window is smashed out in the third floor apartment where the shooter was located, while another window in that apartment has bullet holes.
A third floor apartment in another building on the other side of a small courtyard also has bullet holes through its windows, and one bullet hole in the wall.
Cartwright, 30, said he’s planning to move out.
“I can’t let my kid and my girlfriend be traumatized every time they come home ... I have to protect my family. That means getting out of here and getting them safe,” he said.
Calvin Cole and his girlfriend were in a basement apartment in the same building as the shooter when the shots were fired Friday.
He said they hid in the apartment and stayed put until police finally came to get them out.
Cole said it’s something he’ll never forget.
“It’s probably going to be on the mind for a while. It’s going to be fresh because it’s a rare occurrence here in Fredericton. It makes me concerned heavily about my neighbourhood,” he said.
Cole, 26, said he’s on subsidized housing and will move as soon as a new place can be found for him.
Another tenant, who didn’t want to be identified, said she was in a basement apartment in another building, and just stayed on the floor.
“The scariest time was when the shooting stopped,” she said. “You didn’t know when it was going to start again, or where it would be coming from.”
The Canadian Red Cross is concluding its emergency provision of lodging, meals and other support to residents who were displaced by the shooting.
Bill Lawlor, the New Brunswick director for the Red Cross, said residents are being advised to speak to counsellors and others as they return to their apartments.
“Many of these people, you have to remember, either heard or actually saw this happen. So it was a very traumatic experience for them on that day, and they now have to return to that very same scene,” he said.
Fredericton police say a regimental funeral “to celebrate the lives of our fallen members” will be held on Saturday at the University of New Brunswick.
An obituary for Burns said the 43-year-old mother of three boys fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a police officer three years ago, after more than 14 years as a stay-at-home mom.
“Not a day would go by when she didn’t say aloud, for everyone to hear, ‘I love my job,”’ the obituary published on the McAdam’s Funeral Home and Crematorium website said.
Lawlor said the Red Cross gained a lot of experience after the Moncton Mountie shootings in 2014, and assisted the hundreds of police and other first responders who attended the regimental funeral. He says they will do the same this Saturday.
“We are the second responders in these types of incidents, but we have great respect for the first responder community, so it will be our great privilege to support them during this difficult time,” Lawlor said.
Wright is remembered as a compassionate person who “loved to assist others” in an obituary published by Carleton Funeral Home and Crematorium in Jacksonville, near Woodstock, N.B.
“Affectionately known as ‘bubbles,’ those that had the honour of knowing her well knew this described her perfectly,” it said.
The obituary said Wright graduated from Canterbury High School in 2003 and from New Brunswick Community College with a diploma in medical office administration in 2008. She had previously worked on a tree farm, catered and worked in an office before embarking on a career as a home support worker.
A public visitation was set for Wednesday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., although there will be no funeral service by request.
An obituary for Robichaud said he is survived by a wife and three children, and there will be no visitation or funeral, in keeping with his wishes.
Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder. He is set to appear in court on Aug. 27.
During a news conference Monday, police Chief Leanne Fitch urged the public to be patient, saying the investigation is “very much active and is focused on finding facts” — a sentiment she repeated in a statement Tuesday evening.
Fitch said she was responding to “media criticism” of police being ``tight lipped and not providing certain details of the ongoing investigation.”
“As with any criminal investigation, we cannot make assumptions or let rumours and speculation direct us. We must deal with facts and evidence,” Fitch’s statement said. “This protects the integrity of the investigation and it protects the upcoming court case.”
She added that the questions being raised “are the same questions the investigators are seeking answers to.”
“As your police force, I assure you we are going to get those answers, but we need to do it right. Doing it right means being patient and being thorough so that all investigative possibilities are looked at,” she said.
Police have said the man accused in one of the deadliest shootings in New Brunswick history had a firearms licence and allegedly used a long gun that can be legally obtained in Canada.
Fitch has also confirmed one of the officers who responded to the shooting was wearing a body camera and that the camera evidence was provided to the RCMP.
- Kevin Bissett
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018
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