7 Jun 2014

Man charged over Canadian shootings

3:33 pm on 7 June 2014

A 24-year-old man has been charged with murder in the slayings of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers during a shooting spree in the eastern Canadian city of Moncton.

Justin Bourque, dressed in blue prison garb and under heavy guard, stood motionless in Moncton Provincial Court as a judge read out the charges, local media reported.

In addition to three counts of first-degree murder, Bourque was charged with the attempted murder of two other Mounties who were hurt in the attacks, police said in a statement. The rampage took place late on Wednesday.

Bourque was arrested just after midnight on Friday after a massive manhunt by police, who cordoned off a large area of Moncton, a city of about 70,000 people in the East Coast province of New Brunswick.

Reuters reports the shooting spree was one of the worst of its kind in Canada, where gun laws are stricter than in the United States and deadly attacks on police are rare.

Eyewitness Michelle Thibodeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp that after several police officers moved into her backyard, Bourque emerged from a patch of trees with his hands up and said, "I'm done."

The man was unarmed, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said, although weapons were found in the vicinity.

The three Mounties killed were identified as Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45; David Joseph Ross, 32, and Douglas James Larche, 40.

Bourque, whose next court date is 3 July, was named as a suspect late on Wednesday after the shootings. Police said he had no previous criminal record.

Authorities said they were alerted on Wednesday afternoon by a member of the public who spotted an armed man in camouflage clothing walking down a residential street. When police arrived, the man moved into nearby woods and opened fire.

Local media said Bourque most recently worked at a survivalist equipment store.