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'Am I next?': Officer who responded to Fredericton mass shooting testifies at trial

FREDERICTON — A senior officer with the Fredericton Police Force testified in court Thursday that at one point during the response to the mass shooting on Aug. 10, 2018, he feared he would be the next victim. Sgt.
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FREDERICTON — A senior officer with the Fredericton Police Force testified in court Thursday that at one point during the response to the mass shooting on Aug. 10, 2018, he feared he would be the next victim.

Sgt. Jason Forward told jurors at Matthew Raymond's first-degree murder trial that police were alerted shortly after 7 a.m. that morning of an active shooter situation. He said it was "all hands on deck."

Raymond, 50, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns.

Forward said Costello was just starting his shift and Burns was ending hers, but they got into the same car and headed to the scene at 237 Brookside Drive. Forward said he followed in a squad car close behind.

But as the two cars pulled into the driveway of the apartment complex, Forward said he stopped to talk with a resident who approached him. Afterwards, Forward said he drove a little farther and saw Robichaud on the ground and both constables down.

"I knew at this point I couldn't get to Robb and Sara," Forward testified. "I could be the victim next. I don't know where this guy is, or gal. I don't know where they are."

He said he crawled out of his car and onto the ground. "I'm thinking, am I next? I'm thinking, am I next?" he said.

Forward said it all happened very fast but officers were able to determine the shots were coming from a third floor apartment.

He said other officers arrived and he instructed one of them to fire at the shooter if he tried to shoot again.

More gunshots were heard. Forward said he was told a shot had been fired and an individual in the apartment had "gone down."

He said police used a sledge hammer to break a hole through an apartment door and then threw a gas canister inside. Forward said police used a robotic camera to determine when it was safe to enter. He said the suspect, Matthew Raymond, was taken into custody.

Earlier Thursday, the court heard from a number of eyewitnesses who were residents of the four-building apartment complex.

Norma Foster told the court that on the morning of Aug. 10, 2018, she woke up to gun shots.

She told jurors she called 911 and looked out her apartment window and saw two people checking the pulse of a man lying on the ground outside. Foster testified that a short time after she heard the shots, police arrived. Then, she said, she heard loud noises and saw Cst. Costello "fall down."

An emotional Foster said she told the dispatcher two officers had been shot.

Another eyewitness, Sarah Gould, sobbed as she testified how she woke to the sound of gunshots and looked out her sister's window. She said she saw a window screen on the ground, and after looking upward, saw the barrel of a gun sticking out a window.

Gould said police officers arrived a few minutes later and that she heard more bangs. "They got shot," she said, crying. "First the male went down, then the female."

Asked where the officers were shot, Gould pointed to her chest, referring to the male officer's wounds, and then pointed to her back to indicate where the female cop was shot.

Gould said she saw two people crouching by a car.

On Wednesday, jurors were told that the couple behind the car was Shawn Noble and Kendra Snodgrass.

The two testified they had seen a man lying on the ground and had gone outside to see if they could offer any assistance. They could find no pulse on the man, and waited until police arrived. They said they ducked behind a car when the shooting resumed. 

Also on Thursday, Martin Vezina testified that his girlfriend had gotten him out of bed that August morning after she heard what sounded like fireworks outside their apartment.

He said he looked out his living room window and saw what appeared to be the barrel of a gun sticking out a window. He then heard a loud bang and the sound of smashing glass. Vezina said he hit the floor and quickly crawled to a bedroom and barricaded himself inside.

A picture introduced as evidence in court shows a bullet hole through the living room window of Vezina's apartment.

Vezina said he heard at least 10 more shots. He said he remained in the apartment with his girlfriend and three children until police came and escorted them out.

The trial continues Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press




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