Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met privately Sunday for “a few moments” with the families of two Fredericton police officers killed in a shooting on the city’s north side on Friday.
“I was pleased to be able to hear from family members just how extraordinary both Robb and Sara … were; how they were committed to community, to service, to their country,” he said, referring to Consts. Lawrence Robert Costello and Sara Mae Burns.
The officers, aged 45 and 43 respectively, were killed while responding to reports of gunfire at an apartment complex on the 200 block of Brookside Drive in the city’s north end at 7:10 a.m. AT.
Trudeau said he offered his condolences to the fallen officers’ children and told them something he knew from experience: “When you have a whole community and indeed a whole country supporting you through terrible grief, it actually does make it a little bit easier, not much easier, but a little bit easier.”
Trudeau lost his younger brother, Michel, in an avalanche in 1998. His father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, died two years later.
The prime minister also met with members of the Fredericton Police Force to thank them for their service.
Later in the day, Trudeau laid a bouquet of mixed flowers at the makeshift memorial of flowers, cards, balloons and teddy bears outside the police station.
Asked by reporters what more his government can do to restrict long guns and help protect police officers across the country, Trudeau said, “There’s obviously going to be time to reflect on what we need to be doing to ensure the safety of citizens and their communities and those who serve as first responders and police officers.
“Now is not the time to be talking about that.”
He did say his government was pleased to put forward gun legislation “that is going to make our communities safer.”
Bill C-71, pitched as a collection of “common-sense measures that will crack down on illegal handguns and assault weapons, creating safer communities” while “protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” will be debated when the House of Commons resumes sitting in the fall.
“Obviously I think there is a reflection going on around the country, around how we can ensure our communities are safer, individuals are safer, our police officers are safer,” Trudeau said.
“I think there are natural conversations to be had around now — do we need to take further steps, do we need to go a little further? And these are things that we’re talking with Canadians about, we’re talking with experts about and we are reflecting on.”
Trudeau’s government has faced increasing pressure to address a spike in gun violence, including a recent shooting in Toronto that left two people dead and 13 others injured.
One of the changes proposed in the controversial bill is requiring gun retailers to retain records of firearms inventory and sales for at least two decades. It also proposes extending background checks for violent and criminal offences that currently go back five years to an applicant’s lifetime.
A House of Commons e-petition to scrap the bill has garnered more than 86,000 signatures since it was launched in March, including 3,252 from New Brunswick, as of Sunday.
Critics contend the bill puts further restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, rather than deal with criminal gun and gang activities.
Costello and Burns, who were the first to arrive on scene, were gunned down while trying to help two civilians who had been shot.
Donald Adam Robichaud, 42, and Bobbie Lee Wright, 32, who were a couple, also died Friday.
Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, who was shot by police and is in custody, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
He allegedly shot the victims from an elevated position using a long gun.
Raymond is scheduled to make a court appearance on Aug. 27.
Trudeau was previously scheduled to be in New Brunswick’s capital city to participate in a Fredericton Pride social event Sunday night.
He arrived at the police station under a heavy security detail, accompanied by his youngest son Hadrien and Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey.
Thank you. <a href=”https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@JustinTrudeau</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/MattDeCourcey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MattDeCourcey</a> <a href=”https://t.co/iolcZ6xDcU”>pic.twitter.com/iolcZ6xDcU</a>
A regimental funeral will be held for Costello and Burns on Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. AT at the Aitken University Centre, the city announced on Sunday.
Further details, such as the procession route and public viewing, will be available “in the coming days,” a statement said.
Costello, a 20-year veteran, was a father of four. Burns, who had been on the force for two years and served as auxiliary for two years prior, leaves behind her husband and three children.
The prime minister previously said he was moved by the heroism of the first responders who rushed to the scene after receiving reports of shots fired.
“They did not think twice about what they had to do to keep their fellow Canadians safe. They were unflinching in their duty,” he said in a statement to reporters.
“We will not forget the two fallen police officers whose sacrifice no doubt saved lives and prevented even greater tragedy.”
Trudeau also phoned New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant on Friday, promising federal assistance, including the services of RCMP investigators, to aid Fredericton police as they grapple with the aftermath of deadly shooting.