‘We were feeling like the hunted’

Officer recalls bleeding behind vehicle

Officer recalls bleeding behind vehicle

MONCTON, N.B. — A Mountie who was wounded during a shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., said he has “absolutely no doubt” that he could have downed Justin Bourque had he been armed with a carbine rather than his pistol.

Testifying at the RCMP’s Labour Code trial Monday, Const. Eric Dubois recalled crouching behind his cruiser, wounded and bleeding, as Bourque opened fired on officers on June 4, 2014.

He said he watched Bourque for roughly four seconds as the gunman casually walked across a road, “like someone who was crossing the street with a dog in his hand.”

Dubois told Moncton provincial court he had started his shift at 7 p.m. and, about half hour later, heard reports of an armed man wearing camouflage walking down the road.

He responded to the scene armed only with his 9mm pistol. But when Bourque crossed his line of vision, he was out of the pistol’s range, he said.

Police use of the C8 carbine became a central focus after the Moncton shootings. The Mounties in that city did not have access to carbines at the time and some critics complained police were outgunned.

When asked by prosecutor Paul Adams if having carbines would have made a difference that evening, Dubois said: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.”

“He would have gone down,” said Dubois, based on training he received on carbines after the shooting.

“Everything would have been different. As soon as he started firing at us, we were feeling like the hunted. … We knew we didn’t have the firepower to respond.”

Dubois said he had rushed to the scene to assist Const. Martine Benoit, whose police cruiser was under fire, when he was hit while crouched behind his vehicle. He saw blood coming from holes in his pants and shirt.

At one point he broke down in tears, telling the court he went against his training — which taught him to keep himself safe — and instead decided to put his own life at risk to try to help a fellow officer.

“When I chose to join the RCMP, I was not a teenager, I was an adult, so it was my decision to accept the risk,” said Dubois, who joined the force in 2010 after working more than two decades at a paper company.

“If I have to die, I will die.”

Dubois required surgery after being hit on his left bicep, his lower left leg and upper right leg.

The national police force is accused of violating the Labour Code for allegedly failing to provide members and supervisors with the appropriate information, instruction, equipment and training in an active-shooter event.

Dubois said upon joining the force, he was trained to use his pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun, and had asked to be trained on a rifle.

“They refused to provide the training,” he said, adding that he has been hunting since he was young boy.

Dubois also recalled seeing an officer dragging a lifeless Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, and rushing over to assist.

“When I looked at Fabrice, to me, he had the face of a dead person,” he said, adding he used to work in a morgue and is also trained in first aid.

“There was nothing I could do.”

Gevaudan and constables Doug Larche and Dave Ross were killed, while Dubois and Const. Darlene Goguen were wounded when Bourque used a semi-automatic rifle to target police officers in Moncton’s northwest end.

Later Monday, Mountie Simon Grenier testified that he had taken the day off on June 4, 2014.

Choking back tears, Grenier said he was outside of his home enjoying the nice weather when his neighbour ran over to say something had happened.

Grenier, a former member of the Canadian Forces who now works on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s security detail, said he “kissed the kids” and rushed into the station to put on his gear and grab a weapon and vehicle.

Grenier said he wanted a C8 carbine, but was told none were available, so he took a 308 rifle. He explained that he wanted a carbine because they are more accurate and easier to handle than a rifle.

He and another officer headed to the scene, and at one point they saw the police cruiser of Ross — someone Grenier described as a friend.

“There was a pool of blood right by the driver door,” said Grenier, bowing his head on the witness stand.

He recalled going to the trunk of his cruiser and putting on body armour. He then heard of a sighting of Bourque over the radio and headed in that direction, but he never saw him.

Both officers who testified Monday said they did not receive direction during the incident on where and how to respond. Both said they made their own decisions and judgements during the initial response.

Bourque, who was targeting police in an effort to start an anti-government rebellion, was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

The trial has heard from witnesses who testified they lacked the proper weapons or training to deal with an active-shooter threat.

It continues Tuesday with testimony from an RCMP expert in use of force and officer safety training.

Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.

Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press

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