Const. Darlene Goguen, one of two officers wounded in the June 2014 Moncton massacre, said Tuesday she feared that if other officers came to her aid, they would also become targets.
`”I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to drive as far as I can before I can’t drive any further,” Goguen told the RCMP’s Labour Code trial, her voice cracking. `”And I have to keep other members from coming in because he’ll kill them.”
Goguen was one of four RCMP officers who responded to the scene in Moncton’s northwest end to testify in Moncton provincial court Tuesday.
They described a hectic, tragic scene — with one officer locking eyes with Justin Bourque as he aimed a rifle toward him — and a lack of police firepower and training.
The Labour Code charges against the RCMP allege it failed to provide members and supervisors with the appropriate information, instruction and training in an active-shooter event, and didn’t give members the appropriate equipment.
Witnesses said it was a warm summer evening, with people outside enjoying the weather as Bourque opened fire on police with a semi-automatic rifle in an attempt to inspire a rebellion against the government.
Goguen, a member of the RCMP’s Riverview detachment and nearly 13-year veteran of the force, said she was scraping bugs off the windows of her police car when her sister called to tell her about online rumours of an active shooter in the nearby Codiac district.
”I said, ‘I don’t know what his intentions are, but if he happens to go on a rampage, I don’t think we’re equipped to deal with him,” Goguen told the court.
As Goguen drove towards the scene, she saw another car make a sharp turn and speed away, leading her to suspect the gunman may be near. As she reversed her car, Goguen testified that three loud shots rang out, and she yelled at a civilian to run away.
”My window started blowing up ... My hearing went. I had glass all over my face,” she told the court. "I said to myself, ‘I’m the target. It’s me he wants.”’
Another window blew out, and Goguen told the court that all she felt was heat, blood and “hot, hot metal” in the back right side of her head. She said she saw metal lodged deep in her arm and her shoulder was burning.
Goguen said she drove for her boyfriend’s house so he could take her to the hospital, thinking, “This is it.” Feeling faint, she said she called her loved ones to say goodbye.
“I called my sister and told her I was shot and that I loved her, because that was the last voice I could hear from my family,” she said. ”I said, ‘Guys, the ambulance is not coming for me ... and I don’t know how long I have.”’
Goguen told the court another officer put her in an SUV and took her to the hospital, where she received surgery the next day. Doctors were able to remove all the metal from her arm, she said, and told her that one bullet missed her spine by a “millimetre.” Another bullet was stopped by her vest, she said.
Another witness Tuesday, Const. Erik White, testified that had he been better armed during the standoff, it’s possible that further carnage could have been avoided.
White told the court that “everything slowed down” as he locked eyes with Bourque, who lowered his semi-automatic rifle and prepared to fire in his direction.
White said he ducked behind the bullet-riddled SUV where Const. David Ross lay slumped over in the front seat with a gun-shot wound to the head. White said he knew his standard-issue pistol would be “ineffective” in a fire fight, so he took cover as Bourque took off and continued his shooting spree.
Police use of the C8 carbine has become a central focus in the fallout from the Moncton shootings. Officers have complained they were outgunned by Bourque because they did not have carbines, which have a greater range than the officers’ standard-issue pistols.
“If I had (a carbine) ... I think I would have been able to do something,” White said. "I can say 100 per cent I would have had the means to engage him.”
Also Tuesday, Const. Andrew Johnstone teared up as he recalled approaching Ross’s car and hearing “complete silence.”
"Const. Ross was now shot. I was the last person to talk to him alive,” Johnstone said.
Johnstone said he caught a glimpse of the suspect being chased by officers, but soon joined the effort to assist Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, who was dragged into a nearby garage with fatal gunshot wounds.
Johnstone said he didn’t know where the shooter was or whether he was acting alone. He told court he called his wife to let her know that “at that time, I was safe.”
As police planned to set up a perimeter, Johnstone said he returned to his patrol car and unwrapped the new hard-body armour in the trunk.
“(I) caught my breath and realized what just happened,” said Johnstone. “That was the first opportunity I had after that to put it on.”
Johnstone said he later learned he had put on the hard-body armour “backwards,” and that prior to the Bourque murders, no practical training about how to use the equipment.
He said he was off work for about two months after the shootings. When he returned, Johnstone said he was sent for carbine rifle training, but had to excuse himself because the rapid gunfire was giving him “flashbacks” from that night.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Mark Ertel said an email was sent instructing officers to familiarize themselves with the equipment, but Johnstone said he didn’t recall receiving that instruction.
“It’s easy to look back and say, in a perfect scenario, anybody can put on any piece of equipment that they want to,” Johnstone said. “Put somebody under stress that just saw two of their friends get shot and ... you don’t remember.”
Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
- Adina Bresge
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