Authorities launch manhunt for suspect in New Brunswick police killings

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have launched a manhunt for a gunman after three of its officers were killed and two others were wounded in shootings Wednesday in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Since the attacks, Justin Bourque, 24, has been seen in three different places around Moncton, the latest instance after daylight Thursday morning, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commander Marlene Snowman.

Heavily armed RCMP officers are combing streets and woods in search of Bourque, who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter. 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. They warned people to expect roadblocks and traffic disruptions.

Moncton, a city of about 69,000 people, is about 95 miles northeast of St. John, New Brunswick.

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.

RCMP Constable Damien Theriault said the officers were shot responding to a call about an armed man in the north end of the city at around 7:30 p.m on Wednesday. The two officers who were injured received non life-threatening injuries and were in stable condition.

"We are still actively looking for the shooter," Theriault said. "He is believed to still be in the Pinehurst subdivision area of Moncton. We are urging people in that area to stay inside and lock their doors and for people to say away from that area."

Asked how he was dealing with his grief, Theriault said he personally knew the officers before breaking down and excusing himself because he couldn't complete his sentence.

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 automatic gunfire coming from the man's gun.

"That guy was standing on the road afterwards and he was looking towards us," he said.

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, who was in contact with friends on Facebook, said few people on his normally quiet street were sleeping as they awaited word at midnight on whether arrests had been made.

Word that police had been killed shocked the city, Leblanc said.

"It's devastating. I don't know if he was on a hunt for them, or what," he said.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc urged all residents to pay strict attention to the RCMP warnings.

"It is a terrible tragedy," he said. "We as a city must pull together as a family to support those who have suffered losses."

Such violence is rare in Canada, particularly on Canada's East Coast. Theriault said the city of Moncton didn't have a homicide last year or this year until Wednesday evening.

"We have been blessed until this point," he told The Associated Press.

He said other RCMP officers from around Atlantic Canada are in Moncton assisting with the search.

The shootings brought back memories of when four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were shot and killed in the western Canadian province of Alberta in 2005 in the deadliest attack on Canadian police officers in 120 years. They had been investigating a farm in Mayerthrope, a small hamlet in Alberta when a man shot them before he was killed.

Sean Gallacher, who lives near the area where police were concentrating their search, said he heard what he now believes were gunshots but initially thought his daughter had dropped some toys on the floor above him.

"I was downstairs and heard a few bangs," said Gallacher, 35.

Will Njoku told the CBC that he was emptying his dishwasher and putting his children to bed at around 8 p.m. local time when he heard popping sounds.

"Within 30 seconds I heard sirens," he said, before adding that he heard five more shots after the sirens. When news broke that there was a shooter, he said he went outside to warn his neighbors.

"I felt pretty dumb. But there was people going down there," he said. "I just know my neighborhood. It’s just kid city."

Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney tweeted that he was "shocked by the tragedy" and that his thoughts and prayers were with frontline RCMP officers.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.