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Hunt on for Canadian suspected in police killings

  • Canada-Shooting

    Police officers take cover behind their vehicles in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday.searching for a suspect.

    <Moncton Times & Transcript

  • Canada-Shooting-Manhunt-1

    Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers use their vehicles to create a keep a perimeter in Moncton, New Brunswick on Wednesday June 4, 2014. The RCMP in New Brunswick said an undisclosed number of people have been shot and a manhunt is underway in the north end of Moncton for a man armed with guns.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marc Grandmaison)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Canada-Shooting-2

    Police officers walk around a strip mall urging merchants to shut down their stores in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Police New Brunswick were searching Wednesday for an armed man after at least two people, both police officers, were injured in a shooting. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in New Brunswick said on its Twitter feed that they were looking for 24-year-old Justin Bourque of Moncton, who is considered armed and dangerous. The police force tweeted an image of a suspect wearing military camouflage and wielding two guns. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marc Grandmaison)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Canada-Shooting-Manhunt-2

    Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Damien Theriault and Mayor George LeBlanc pause to collect themselves before addressing the media during a late night news conference at City Hall in Moncton, New Brunswick Wednesday.

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

Canada-Shooting-Manhunt-2

Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Damien Theriault and Mayor George LeBlanc pause to collect themselves before addressing the media during a late night news conference at City Hall in Moncton, New Brunswick Wednesday.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

MONCTON, New Brunswick — A man suspected of killing three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers was spotted three times today but has so far eluded a massive manhunt in the normally tranquil east coast city of Moncton, police said.

Justin Bourque, 24, was seen in three different places around the search area of Moncton, said RCMP Commander Marlene Snowman. Police said he has high powered long firearms, ammunition and other items.

At one point, he was seen coming in and out of a wooded area, Snowman said.

“He’s capable of moving into the wooded area and out,” she said.

Investigators have not determined a motive for the shooting — the deadliest attack on the RCMP in nearly a decade. The three officers were killed after responding to a call about an armed man in the north end of Moncton. Two other officers were wounded.

Snowman said Bourque was not known to police.

Heavily armed RCMP officers are combing streets and woods in search of the suspect, who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter.

“Quite honestly I don’t know where he is at this time,” RCMP Commanding Officer Roger Brown said.

Police officers from across the country have been brought in to help arrest the suspect, Brown said.

Schools and government offices were closed, and the city pulled its buses off the roads. Mail delivery was suspended.

Police have commandeered armored trucks and told residents to stay indoors.

Brown said two officers underwent surgery for non-life threatening wounds in hospital today and he met with the families of the officers who were shot.

He did not release the names of the officers who were shot because police were still notifying relatives.

“The RCMP family is hurting. As is Moncton, New Brunwick and our country,” Brown said.

Canada-Shooting

Police officers take cover behind their vehicles in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday.searching for a suspect.

Moncton Times & Transcript Enlarge

The homicides were the first this year in Moncton, a city of 69,000 people about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of the Maine border. RCMP Const. Damien Theriault said the city had no homicides last year.

“We have been blessed until this point,” Theriault told The Associated Press.

Police released a map of a large portion of the northwest section of the city, including a heavily wooded area, where they wanted people to remain inside with their doors locked. Families hunkered down in their basements.

Authorities warned people to expect roadblocks and traffic disruptions.

Police commandeered two Brink’s trucks and other private armored vehicles and entered the neighborhood.

Walmart Canada said suspect worked at Walmart in Moncton four years ago, but said he has not worked for them since 2010.

Daniel St. Louis, a commercial photographer, said he came upon the scene around 8:30 p.m. and saw two police vehicles on different streets with blood inside.

One of the vehicles, a marked police cruiser, was surrounded by shattered glass. The other, an unmarked SUV with its lights still on and the driver’s side door left open, had several bullet holes through its front windshield.

“I walked over and I saw two feet, facing the street, toes up,” said St. Louis, 51. “I realized, ‘Oh my God. There’s somebody down.‘ As I got close, I realized it was an officer and this is not a good situation.”

St. Louis said he doesn’t know what to make of the tragedy.

“Our quiet little city, what is going on here?” he said. “How is this happening to us? It always happens to somebody else.”

Danny Leblanc, 42, said he saw the shooter in the distance Wednesday evening, wearing a camouflage outfit and standing in the middle of the street with his gun pointed at police cars.

The construction worker said he believed it was an RCMP officer until he heard a burst of gunfire coming from the man’s gun.

He said he quickly retreated into his home and remained there with his family. At one point a neighbor posted on social media that their kitchen window was shattered by gunfire.

Leblanc said few people on his normally quiet street were sleeping as they awaited word at midnight on whether an arrest had been made.

Such violence is rare in Canada, particularly on the east coast.

The three officers were the first Canadian police killed the line of duty since March 2013, when a Kativik police force officer in northern Quebec was shot after responding to a domestic violence call.

Based on information from the RCMP’s Honour Roll page on its website, the last Mountie to die from a gunshot was Const. Douglas Scott on Nov. 5, 2007. He was shot while responding to a call for help involving an impaired driver at Kimmirut, Nunavut.

Wednesday’s shooting brought back memories of when four RCMP officers were killed by a gunman on a farm in the western Canadian province of Alberta in 2005. That attack remains the deadliest attack on Canadian police officers in 120 years.

In 1974, two Moncton cops were kidnapped, shot and killed after making a traffic stop.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in Brussels for a meeting of the G-7 group of nations, offered his condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those affected by the shootings.

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