The massive manhunt that locked down hundreds of residents in their homes, closed schools, cancelled mail delivery and halted public transportation for more than 24 hours in a city in eastern Canada, ended early today when authorities captured the heavily armed suspect in the killing of three police officers and the wounding of two others.
The suspect, 24-year-old Justin Bourque, had posted numerous hardcore pro-gun and anti-police statements and photographs on his Facebook page for weeks, along with at least one anti-Semitic cartoon, before allegedly turning his virtual hatred of police authority into bloody reality.
Canadian officials say Bourque killed the officers Wednesday night around 7:30 in an ambush-style shootout in a subdivision in the city of Moncton, in the province of New Brunswick. Then he disappeared into nearby woods, setting off the manhunt that transformed the city of 70,000 into an armed camp filled with SWAT teams, search dogs, helicopters and armored vehicles rumbling through the streets.
Although Bourque, dressed in camouflage fatigues and carrying two rifles and a crossbow, was reportedly spotted Thursday at least three times, it wasn’t until 12:10 this morning that the police were finally able to capture him in Michelle Thibodeau’s backyard. Thibodeau, 21, told the National Post that she watched as police officers, guns drawn, moved in, shouting at Bourque to surrender.
Just before they threw him to the ground and slapped him in handcuffs, Thibodeau said she heard Bourque tell the officers, “I’m done.”
Prior to Bourque allegedly gunning down five Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, killing three of them, he was not known to authorities, according to the Post. Bourque, friends say, was just one of the guys, hanging out on a Saturday night, drinking beers, listening to heavy metal music. Then something happened. He started using more drugs and drinking harder, his friend, Darrick Lloyd Hanson, told the paper.
“When he started saying, ‘I would kill anyone for you guys’ and started screaming, ‘I’m dead. I’m dead,’ that’s when I stopped hanging out with him,” Hanson said.
Bourque grew up in the city he terrorized. He was one of five siblings from a religious family and was homeschooled, the paper said, from an early age. At one time he worked at Walmart and then a small grocery store.
Friends told the paper that Bourque loved guns and owned as many as six. Recently, they said, he had become increasingly paranoid about the government taking away guns and fearful that police departments were becoming more militarized.
On his Facebook page, Bourque posted a photo from an anti-gun control group of the movie pirate, Capt. Jack Sparrow, with a chilling, if not prophetic, message printed in capital letters above and below the image:
“WE NEED YOUR GUNS, THEY SAID. SO I SHOT THEM.”