People show support at visitation for slain Mounties

The Canadian Press
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As Elaine Gray emerged from the sombre, dimly lit auditorium where three slain Mounties lay in flag-draped coffins, the Moncton woman dabbed her reddened eyes with a tissue and squinted in the blazing sunshine.

The caskets of (from left) Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que.; Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John, N.B.; and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, from Boulogne-Billancourt, France, sit in Wesleyan Celebration Centre during a public visitation in Moncton, N.B., on Monday. — Photo by The Canadian Press

Gray was among hundreds of people who attended a public visitation Monday for constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Douglas James Larche and Dave Joseph Ross, who were all shot dead in the line of duty last week in Moncton’s north end.

“I just wanted to say thank you again and again to these people,” Gray said. “(What happened) was so senseless and such a shame and such a loss. I didn’t know any of them personally. I know all of them now.”

About 200 people were lined up as the doors swung open to the Wesleyan Celebration Centre. At the front of the auditorium, the coffins were placed end to end, each one with a Mountie’s brown Stetson on top.

On a stage behind the coffins were several wreaths and large bouquets, most of them laden with red and white blooms. In front of the wreaths were displays featuring framed photos of each of the victims and their brown leather boots.

As the crowd filed past, six RCMP officers in red serge were there to greet them. Amid a murmur of voices and a few heavy sighs and sobs, each Mountie took turns shaking hands and accepting quiet thanks and personal tributes from the mourners.

Most of the people in the auditorium were older, but as the line grew longer the range of ages widened considerably. One woman brought two small children, a boy and a girl in their Sunday best.

Some people wore formal outfits, others were in jeans, shorts and sandals as the temperature outside rose above 25 C.

Aline Chiasson from nearby Dieppe said she wanted to show her support for the Mounties.

“We came down because we’re really sorry for those people and their families, having to go through such terrible stress and sorrow,” she said, her Acadian accent highlighting the area’s strong bilingual roots.

“It’s too often that we criticize the RCMP. But what would we do without them? We need them to protect us.”

The visitation service was held as the city prepares for an RCMP regimental funeral service Tuesday. Mayor George LeBlanc said he expects between 5,000 and 7,000 police officers from across Canada to attend at the Moncton Coliseum, which will be preceded by an RCMP parade. The service will be televised.

LeBlanc said the city’s outpouring of support for the families of the slain officers has been one of the bright lights in a dark time.

“If you just look around here today, it won’t take you long to see somebody coming up and shaking the hands of an RCMP officer,” LeBlanc said before attending the visitation service. “That is the goodness of Moncton shining through.”

The city has set up at least five other sites where people can gather to watch the funeral. Residents have also been asked to volunteer their homes as billets for travelling police officers.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will travel together to Moncton to attend the service. Gov.-Gen. David Johnston was also scheduled to attend.

The office of Premier David Alward has asked people to observe a moment of silence Tuesday at

1 p.m., when the service begins.

Gevaudan, Larche and Ross were gunned down Wednesday evening after responding to a report of a man with firearms in a residential neighbourhood in the northwest area of Moncton. Two other officers — Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen — were wounded and released from hospital.

The shootings and the ensuing 30-hour manhunt for the alleged killer brought the city to a standstill until an arrest was made just after midnight Friday.

Schools reopened Monday and counselling services were made available to students. Books of condolence were also set up at various city halls and RCMP detachments throughout New Brunswick.

Gevaudan, 45, originally of the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, was remembered in his obituary as an advocate of women’s rights who adored his wife and “Twin Flame,” Angela, and stepdaughter Emma.

“While he died protecting the lives of the individuals in his community, his spirit tells us he died as he lived — a happy man,” it says.

The obituary for Larche, 40, of Saint John, N.B., says he died while working as a plainclothes officer who “without fear or hesitation ran towards danger to protect his community and family.” He leaves behind his wife Nadine and three daughters and “little princesses” Alexa, Laura and Mia.

Ross’s obituary says the 32-year-old dog handler died doing what he loved. He is survived by his wife Rachael and son Austin, with another child expected in the fall.

The RCMP released a statement from Ross’s wife and father saying his love of dogs brought the couple together.

“Dave’s first dog, Art, played a special role in their relationship,” the statement read. “When Dave and Rachael would hold hands, Art would often try to nose their hands apart because he wanted all of Dave’s attention. These were very special memories the couple shared.”

LeBlanc said the deaths of the officers are difficult to fathom.

“It’s hard to accept that this is reality,” he said. “It’s hard to find words to describe it.”

Justin Bourque, 24, of Moncton is facing three charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He made a brief appearance in provincial court Friday and is scheduled to return to court July 3.

 

By Kevin Bissett

and Michael MacDonald

THE CANADIAN PRESS—MONCTON, N.B.

Organizations: RCMP, Michael MacDonaldTHE CANADIAN PRESS

Geographic location: Moncton, Canada, Paris Boulogne-Billancourt Saint John

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  • The State of the Nation
    June 10, 2014 - 03:58

    Our glorification of violence and it's cartoon portrayal in media (Republic of Doyle) fosters the attitude of the white male policeman who takes a bullet, gouges it out with a hot-tipped knife, wraps it up and keeps on going strong. St. Jude pray for us. It is totally right to criticize the RCMP ORGANIZATION, that does not PROTECT it's own from INTERNAL ABUSE, and the resulting bad reputation of closed shop secrecy, bigotry and denial. Exposing and remedying this is a democracy in action. It is not right to make MEN one dimensional in this media-statist fashion, only to inflate them to 3-D in death for State sympathies. Canadians need to take our nation back from State actors and restore faith in our National institutions such as the RCMP and the CBC. Had these been five women, would this young man have seen them as 'cardboard cops' as easily? If it was five policemen during the 6th season of Seeing Things (1980s), and not Doyle (2010s)...oh, CBC, oh, Newfoundland. Don't hang your heads, or defend against my meagre opinion; merely reflect on it please. CBC, last morning, state anchor Wendy Mesley (at a time when Knowlton Nash is needed!), addressed whether we play to a dangerous need for fame, by repeating the killer’s name, whether we must dissect his Facebook page for death metal/police cyberspace/etc, and whether this incident will justify further gun control, by the same GOVERNMENT that scrapped the long-form census. State Business trumps the health of a Nation. How can the CBC address State Control and the depth psychology of a population who views cops, soldiers, and others who serve as disposable cardboard cut-outs of the STATE (and multi-faceted state martyrs after death), not the PROTECTORS OF A PROGRESSIVE NATION? This is not gun culture-induced, cyber-induced or fame-driven - it is mostly repression-induced. The tactics of Wal-Mart management, and RCMP management; compare and contrast this, CBC, Wendy “Peter Panning the Obvious” Mesley, please. WWIII, as the other money-wars did, will induce violence for us to counter at home, and possibly martial law. PLEASE Canada, we must see this, or risk getting plunged into depravity by HARPER and other state warlords who would abuse the national trust. My brother is RCMP, and this is MY OPINION. I write for love of nation. I hide my real name for fear of state-media-industry reprisal that would see my family suffer. We have a duty to be critical of a state that makes us anonymous trolls in our native country. Don’t we? When Harper reversed the half-masting of the flag for fallen soldiers in 2005, the message was clear - THIS is the flag of MY STATE, and not YOUR NATION. As long as Canadians play ABC - anything but critical-thinking, this will not change, even if Harper is resoundly fired in 2015.

  • beverly hawco
    June 10, 2014 - 01:08

    my thoughts and prayers are with the familes this is a tragedy that should not have happened im writing from newfoundland canada ye are in my thoughts and prayers god bless ye all and may god give ye the strenght to get through this rip officers god bless