A 24-year-old Canadian named by authorities as the man who shot and killed three police officers Wednesday is believed to have posted angry rants about law enforcement on social media before the attack.
The assault on the streets of a residential neighborhood in Moncton began more than 25 hours ago and sparked a manhunt that is still underway. A portion of the town remains on lockdown, with residents being asked to lock their doors and take shelter to protect themselves from the suspected gunman, according to City Councillor Daniel Bourgeois
Authorities say Justin Bourque shot and killed three police officers and wounded two. On a Facebook page believed to belong to him, posts expressing anger about anti-gun legislation and law enforcement officials remained public Thursday.
Bourque is believed to be armed with rifles, knives, crossbows and other weapons, according to televised accounts by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
By Thursday afternoon, the CBC reported, officers in tactical gear and carrying riot shields could be seen moving toward a building in Moncton. Police began moving away from the building shortly before 4 p.m., the CBC said. At a televised news conference, authorities said they believed a reported sighting of the suspect was a false alarm.
Bourgeois told the Los Angeles Times that the shootout began Wednesday when police officers responded to a 911 call about a man walking through a Moncton neighborhood carrying weapons.
The gunman opened fire on five members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, killing three and injuring two. The injured officers suffered non-life-threatening wounds. The victims have not been identified.
The gunfire prompted a lockdown of several neighborhoods and schools, which lasted through Thursday as police searched an area known as the Pinehill Subdivision.
Bourgeois said Bourque had run into a wooded area less than a quarter of a mile from him, and the councillor and his two young sons hid in a basement as police swarmed the area. Around the same time, Bourgeois received a chilling phone call from his sister, who heard gunshots in her neighborhood.
“It’s stressful, but it’s nothing compared to what the police officers are going through with their families," he said.
Bourgeois said the lockdown had affected roughly 2,000 of Moncton's 70,000 residents. Many of the places Bourque has been hiding are in the center of the city, he said.
Police spent several hours tracking Bourque on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, repeatedly warning residents to stay indoors, keep their outdoor lights on and avoid posting police movements to social media.
“If this can happen in Moncton it can happen anywhere," said Mayor George LeBlanc. "I think that what is important for us now as a community is to support the RCMP. To follow their instructions. Not to post anything that might impede their investigation, to provide whatever assistance we can.”
The Facebook page believed to belong to the shooter depicts a man who appears angry with law enforcement and obsessed with the battle over gun regulations that is more normally associated with the United States.
The profile picture on the page shows two men holding rifles, standing in a snowbank with shell casings at their feet. Earlier posts complained about the militarization of police and the salaries of Canadian politicians, while mocking proponents of gun control.
A few hours before the shootings, a post on the page contained an ominous set of lyrics by the metal band Megadeth. The song, “Hook in Mouth,” is an anti-censorship song, the chorus of which spells out the word “Freedom.”
“You say you've got the answers, well who asked you anyway? Ever think maybe it was meant to be this way?” it said. “Don't try to fool us, we know the worst is yet to come. I believe my kingdom will come.”
Commenters on the page implored Bourque to surrender. Underneath the lyrics posted by Bourque, someone wrote, "you knew this wasn’t the answer…"
Bourgeois said the Canadian Legislature had not passed any significant gun measures since the National Firearms Registry was implemented in 1993. He said Moncton rarely sees violent crime.
"Maybe 15 years ago there were six homicides in Moncton in a year, probably within five or six months, so that was a big panic," he said. "But if we have one murder per year, that’s about it.”
A police officer has not been killed in the line of duty in Moncton since 1974, Bourgeois said.
Canadian officials continued to mourn throughout the day. The House of Commons held a moment of silence to honor the slain officers on Thursday afternoon.
“The RCMP is hurting, as is New Brunswick, as is our country,” said Roger Brown, commanding officer for the New Brunswick Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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5:31 p.m. - This story has been updated to indicate the manhunt is still continuing. Police have been searching for Bourque for roughly 25 hours.
This story was originially pushed at 1:25 p.m.