Police officers, dignitaries arrive in Moncton for solemn service

Mounties escort hearse in Moncton, N.B., June 10, 2014.
Kris Sims/TWITTER

Police officers from across Canada have started arriving in Moncton to pay their respects to the three Mounties who were killed in the line of duty.

Public transit buses picked up RCMP officers in their dress uniforms as well as officers from other forces in advance of an RCMP regimental funeral service Tuesday for constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Douglas James Larche and Dave Joseph Ross.

An RCMP parade is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m., to be followed by the televised funeral at 1 p.m. at the Moncton Coliseum, where Mayor George LeBlanc says between 5,000 and 7,000 police officers are expected.

Brenda Jaillet from Oromocto, N.B., said the shooting deaths have touched her husband, a retired RCMP officer, who will march in the parade.

"It's a brotherhood,'' Jaillet said outside the Moncton Coliseum. ``What has affected these three members has affected him. It could have been him at any time during his career.''

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will speak at the service, and Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Gov.-Gen. David Johnston are also scheduled to attend.

So many people are expected to go to the service that six other sites in Moncton and four more outside the city have been set up where mourners can gather together.

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 have been 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.

Barely a week after the shootings, LeBlanc says it's still difficult to fathom what happened in his normally peaceful city.

"It's hard to find words to describe it,'' he said Monday before a public visitation where hundreds of people paid their respects inside a dimly lit auditorium, where the three slain Mounties lay in flag-draped coffins.

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.

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, 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.

LeBlanc said the officers' families have suffered an unimaginable loss. Moncton, too, will need time to recover, he said.

"I hope that (the funeral) will be a step toward a journey of healing for the community,'' he said.

Justin Bourque, 24, of Moncton is facing three charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He is scheduled to be in provincial court July 3.

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