MONCTON, New Brunswick (AP) — A man charged with fatally shooting three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and wounding two others in June pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder charges.
Justin Bourque, 24, also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder. He recently was found competent and mentally fit to stand trial.
Members of his family declined comment as they left court.
The June 4 killings and ensuing manhunt brought the city of Moncton, New Brunswick, to a near-standstill until an arrest was made about 30 hours later. Armed with high-powered firearms, Bourque was spotted three times as the city of about 60,000 people near the Maine border was all but shut down.
Constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Douglas Larche were killed after responding to a report of a man with firearms in a residential neighborhood. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were wounded.
It was the deadliest attack on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police since four officers were killed by a gunman in the western province of Alberta in 2005. That attack remains the deadliest on Canadian police officers in 120 years.
Police have not yet identified any motive in the June shootings, but a portrait of a man obsessed with guns and anti-government rhetoric began to emerge following the shootings. Neighbors of his parents and others who knew Bourque spoke of a quiet man from a well-liked, Catholic family, but what appeared to be Bourque’s most recent posts on social networks told a different tale.
A friend, Trever Finck, said he noticed changes in Bourque’s behavior over the past year, particularly after he created a new Facebook page for himself in February and filled it with anti-police messages and conspiracy theories. His profile picture shows him standing in the woods with a friend, wearing camouflage gear and clutching a shotgun, with what appear to be dozens of spent shell casings at their feet.
Bourque’s case returns to court Oct. 27 to file victim impact statements and pre-sentencing documents.
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