Police identify two officers killed in Fredericton

Police say they have a suspect in custody.
August 10, 2018, 6:15pm

The two Fredericton Police officers killed during a shooting in a residential neighbourhood in the city’s north have been identified as 45-year-old Lawrence Robb Costello and 43-year-old Sara Mae Burns. Costello left behind his partner and four children, while Burns left behind her husband and three children.

Costello had been on the force for 20 years, and Burns joined in 2015.

Police said the other two civilians killed in the shooting were a man and a woman, but that their identities would not be released pending their next of kin being notified of their deaths.

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“It’s been a very difficult day for our officers,” Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch told reporters during a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Deputy police chief Martin Gaudet would only say that the suspected shooter is a 48-year-old man from Fredericton and he’s currently in hospital being treated for serious injuries stemming from the incident. Gaudet declined to provide further information on the suspect as the investigation is ongoing. Police have requested that anyone with information about the matter come forward.

Gaudet said that police responded to a call to the Brookside neighbourhood just after 7am, but he would not provide further details on the nature of that call.

The Fredericton Police have requested that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police assist with the homicide investigation, which RCMP Superintendent Ross White said would be “thorough and professional.”

Mayor Mike O'Brien offered further condolences to the families of the victims. In the near future, we’ll “As mayor, this is something I never want to have to live through. I have. I am. We are.”

Prior to apprehending a suspect, police urged people to lock their doors and asked them not to post information about the position of movements of first responders. Just after 10 a.m., they tweeted that there was no further threat to the public and lockdowns were no longer required.

Eyewitnesses told CBC News they heard more than two dozen rounds fired.

Multiple victims of the shooting are being treated at a local hospital, although it's unclear how many people were injured or what the extent of those injuries are.

A Fredericton man named Justin, who lives in one of the low-rise brick buildings in the vicinity of the shooting, told reporters on scene that he woke up to gunshots outside his window.

"I looked outside my window and there was a cop firing at the suspect, I assume. And then I went to my other window to see what he was shooting at and it was the suspect with a barrel at the top of the other apartment. And then I went around to look out the back too because they were out back, and there was two cops laying there, who I believe were deceased, on the ground, and there was one deceased civilian," he said.

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He said he saw the barrel of a gun from inside the window, but didn’t see what the suspect looked like.

Another resident described hearing what sounded like firecrackers.

"With the tempo, it might've been a gunshot," Robert DiDiodato told CBC news. "It was sort of like a pop, pop, pop, pop."

On Friday afternoon, an RCMP sergeant was dispatched to address the group of reporters at the scene and requested that they alter their reporting strategy to avoid spreading what he described as "misinformation" as the investigation is still in its early stages.

"I was called here to talk to you and just come to a mutual understanding about investigational integrity and misinformation," the sergeant told the reporters, without specifying what type of information the police were concerned about.

He asked that any credible information or witness accounts gathered be forwarded to investigators.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended his condolences and said his office is monitoring the situation closely.

With a population of around 60,000, the city of Fredericton is relatively safe, and residents say they have never seen any act of violence like this. The most recent data from Statistics Canada shows the city has low homicide rates, with zero being reported in 2016, although the reported assault rate is slightly above the national average.

The Fredericton shooting is bringing up discussions of the 2014 shooting rampage in Moncton, New Brunswick, about two hours from the capital, when 24-year-old Justin Bourque fired a semi-automatic rifle and shot three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and injured two others. Bourque pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, and is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 75 years.

An agreed statement of facts in the case found that Bourque’s actions were “planned and deliberate.” Dressed in camouflage as he carried out the attack, he targeted the RCMP officers with the goal of inciting an anti-government rebellion.

Cover Image: Police and RCMP officers survey the area of a shooting in Fredericton, N.B. on Friday, August 10, 2018. Photo by Keith Minchin/The Canadian Press