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Man accused of killing Canadian policemen caught

A heavily armed man that police identified as Justin Bourque walked on Hildegard Drive in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday after several shots were fired in the area. Police said Bourque was apprehended early Friday.

Viktor Pivovarov/Times & Transcript/REUTERS

A heavily armed man that police identified as Justin Bourque walked on Hildegard Drive in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Wednesday after several shots were fired in the area. Police said Bourque was apprehended early Friday.

MONCTON, New Brunswick — The man suspected in the shooting deaths of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police was arrested unarmed and without incident earlier Friday after a massive manhunt, officials said.

Police said at a press conference that they received a tip that led them to the New Brunswick location where they found 24-year-old Justin Bourque, suspected in the deadliest attack on the ranks of Canada’s national police force in nearly a decade.

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RCMP Supt. Marlene Snowman said Bourque was arrested in Moncton at 12:10 a.m. without incident. She said no weapons were on him, but were found nearby. Charges will be brought later Friday.

Michelle Thibodeau said she saw the man arrested in the front yard of her Moncton home and heard the suspect say, ‘‘I’m done,’’ before his arrest by officers with guns drawn.

RCMP Commander officer Roger Brown said identified the dead as Constables Fabrice Georges Gebordin, 45; David Ross, 32; and Douglas James Larche, 40. The injured officers are Const. Darlene Goguen and Const. Eric Dubois.

Much of this normally tranquil Canadian city of about 60,400 people had been on lockdown, with frightened residents huddled in their homes as Mounties scoured the quiet streets.

A motive for the shootings was not known. Neighbors of the suspect described a withdrawn man who collected guns and was an avid hunter of birds, deer and moose.

‘‘He never missed a season,’’ said Kerry Fitzpatrick, who lives half a block away from Bourque and was at home when he heard the sound of gunfire. When he later heard Bourque might be the shooter, he walked over to Bourque’s trailer, found an open door and Bourque’s wallet on the table.

‘‘He lost it. The guy lost it,’’ Fitzpatrick said.

Bourque, who was armed with high-powered long firearms, was spotted three times Thursday but still managed to elude the massive manhunt that all but shut down the city about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of the Maine border.

Police released a map of a large portion of the northwest section of the city, including a heavily wooded area, where they wanted people to remain indoors with their doors locked. They urged residents to turn on exterior lights to help the search. Many parts of Moncton, including much of its popular downtown area, were completely shut down, with some businesses placing signs in windows explaining they were closed because of the manhunt.

Schools and government offices were closed. The city pulled its buses off the roads and mail delivery was suspended. Police commandeered armored trucks.

Dozens of police officers with their weapons drawn could be seen in a part of the search area, some glancing around buildings. Others, including members of a tactical unit, were patrolling streets within the cordoned off area.

Nervous residents who live in the same trailer park as Bourque said he was a quiet, seemingly reclusive man who shared a small, worn trailer with a roommate.

Neighbor Holly Tingley said before the capture that residents feared that Bourque might return home.

‘‘My kids keep asking me, ‘Did they catch him? Did they catch him?’ It puts me on edge every time they ask,’’ she said.

Police used air support, tactical teams and canine units. Several hundred officers from New Brunswick and elsewhere from across Canada were involved.

Bourque was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter.

Police still have not released the identities of the three officers who were killed Wednesday night while responding to a call about an armed man. Two other officers, whose names also were not released, were wounded.

Gun violence is rare in eastern Canada. This was the deadliest attack on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police since four officers were killed by a gunman on a farm in the western Canadian province of Alberta in 2005. That attack remains the deadliest on Canadian police officers in 120 years.

The three officers were the first Canadian police killed in the line of duty since March 2013, when a police officer in northern Quebec was shot after responding to a domestic violence call. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website, the last officer to die from a gunshot wound was on Nov. 5, 2007.

Canada’s Parliament on Thursday observed a moment of silence and the flag on Parliament Hill flew at half-staff.

Fitzpatrick, the suspect’s neighbor, said he stopped by Bourque’s trailer five days ago.

‘‘He seemed fine, it was a normal conversation,’’ Fitzpatrick told The Associated Press on Thursday by phone from his home.

Fitzpatrick said Bourque ‘‘obviously had things on his mind,’’ based on a stretch of recent Facebook posts about guns and the police, but did not take it seriously.

Benjamin Shingler contributed from Montreal.
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