Moncton, Canada, in shock as chilling portrait of Mounties' killer emerges
Man accused of slaying Mounties was a gun-obsessed conspiracy theorist
A chilling portrait of a man obsessed with guns and anti-government rhetoric began to emerge as people in an eastern Canadian city struggled to reconcile the knowledge the person charged with murdering three Mounties was the same one who had lived quietly among them.
Justin Bourque, 24, was caught and charged with three murders and two attempted murders on Friday, ending a 30-hour manhunt that closed schools, forced residents to hide at home and paralysed Moncton, New Brunswick, with fear. He appeared briefly in court after he was charged with the second deadliest attack on the Royal Canadian Mountain Police in nearly 130 years.
As neighbours of his parents and others who knew Bourque spoke of a quiet man from a well-liked, religious Catholic family that home-schooled its children, posts on social networks told a different tale - a litany of paranoid conspiracies that included statements on Russia being a threat to Canada and animosity towards authority.
A friend, Trever Finck, said he noticed changes in Bourque's behaviour over the last 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. What appear to be dozens of spent shell casings lie at their feet.
"I just want to know what was going through his head," Finck said.
Church administrator Dianne LeBlanc said it had been many years since she had seen Bourque, who moved out of the family home about 18 months ago. But his parents never missed a Sunday service at Christ the King church, she said. They often arrived with at least a couple of their grown children in tow.
LeBlanc said parents Victor and Denise home-schooled their children, who were raised speaking French.
"They're a good family," LeBlanc said. "They were such good Catholics. I'm sure [parishioners] are very sad for them."
Bourque was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder on Friday, during a short court appearance in which he appeared bearded and shaggy-haired amid high security. He is due back in court on July 3.
On Friday, police released the names of the victims: constables David Ross, 32, originally of Victoriaville, Quebec; Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally of Boulogne-Billancourt in France; and Douglas James Larche, 40, of Saint John, New Brunswick.
Ross' mother, Helene Rousseau, said there was a difficult road ahead for her son's wife, who has a one-year-old and is due to have a second child in September. "These children won't remember of course. They will not have had the opportunity of knowing their father," Rousseau said.
Families and school groups placed flowers and notes on the steps of a police station, where one person placed a portrait of a solemn Mounty atop a horse. Hundreds attended a vigil on Friday night.
"It goes from fear to happiness to joy to sadness," said one attendee, Lynne Lannigan. "At this point it doesn't matter if you're blood related or not."