Woman recounts terrifying moments after gunshots rang out in Fredericton shooting
She awoke to the crack of gunfire, the shots fired two floors above her in a Fredericton apartment complex.
Then she heard a loud pounding at the door, and police wielding guns ordered her and her family to put their hands up and exit the building.
Moments later, as more deafening gunshots echoed in the parking lot, she was told to crouch down. As police stood guard, she crawled into the back of an armoured vehicle that quickly whisked her to safety.
Vicki McKay told her dramatic story as she returned to her apartment Tuesday, a traumatic homecoming to the scene of a shooting spree where four people – Bobbie Lee Wright, Donnie Robichaud and responding officers Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns – were gunned down days earlier.
“It woke us up, and my boyfriend said, ‘Those are gunshots,”‘ she said.
“The cops backed up a swat truck right to the front door and stood on either side to protect us as we crawled inside.”
She was briefly separated from some of her family members, as the armoured trucks sped away as soon as they were full, but was reunited with her three children – ages 17, 18 and 24 – and boyfriend moments later.
McKay added: “It was really scary and being back here is overwhelming.”
Her account of her experience in the minutes and hours after gunshots rang out early Friday morning in the Brookside Drive parking lot paints a portrait of how the shooting spree unfolded.
As Fredericton struggles in the aftermath of the deadly shooting, residents of the apartment buildings returning home for the first time since the shooting offered new details of what occurred.
The complex looks similar to low-rise apartment buildings across the country. It’s made up of four units, each three storeys high with red brick and cream siding and large picture windows. A child’s red wagon sits outside one door, a tricycle on the nearby grass.
But a closer look reveals bullet holes in windows, and a large swath of the parking lot appears to have a new blacktop finish.
Yet Janet Brideau remembers the parking lot before it was refinished. She can’t get the grisly images out of her mind.
She lives in an apartment unit beside where the alleged gunman was located. When she heard the booming gunshots, at first she thought it was the sound of a garbage truck backing up.
But after the second round of bullets, she got up and carefully pulled back her curtains to look outside.
“I saw two people laying in the parking lot in front of me. They weren’t moving,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes as she recalled the gruesome scene.
Brideau said it appeared someone was just shooting randomly, without any clear target.
Unlike residents in the building next door, she was forced to remain in her unit until later that morning.
“Someone knocked on the door around 9:30 and said ‘police.’ I held my breath and prayed to God it really was the police,” Brideau said.
“We were told to go around the building and run through the bushes. It was the most terrifying moment of my life.”
While the shooting deeply affected residents of the north-side apartment complex, it also left an entire city grieving and searching for answers.
Fredericton police Chief Leanne Fitch has repeatedly urged the public to be patient, saying the police investigation is “very much active and is focused on finding facts.”
She has said the long gun investigators believe was used in the attack is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon.
Fitch also confirmed one of the officers who responded to the shooting on the city’s north side was wearing a camera, although she wouldn’t say which officer.
Police said the body camera evidence was downloaded and provided to the RCMP as part of its homicide investigation.