MONCTON, New Brunswick (AP) — Royal Canadian Mounted Police combed the streets and woods of this normally tranquil city Thursday in search of a man suspected of killing three officers in the deadliest attack on their ranks in nearly a decade.
The suspect, 24-year-old Justin Bourque, was armed with high-powered long firearms. He was spotted three times while eluding the massive manhunt that emptied roads and kept families hunkered in their homes in Moncton, an east coast city where gun violence is rare.
Dozens of police officers could be seen in a part of the search perimeter with their weapons drawn, some glancing around buildings. Others, including members of a tactical unit, were patrolling streets within the cordoned off area. Armored security trucks were also visible.
"Our search for the suspect is still ongoing," RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah told a news conference Thursday afternoon. "Our focus remains in the mountain north area."
Police urged residents to keep their doors locked and to turn on exterior lights to help the search.
"Stay at home, bar your doors and be vigilant," Farrah said. "I know it's hard for families. You are in your house, you are locked, you have your kids, you want to go outside. But the police are saying to stay in."
Police were using air support, tactical teams and canine units, she said. Several hundred officers from New Brunswick and elsewhere from across Canada were involved.
"We have deployed a large amount of resources from here and elsewhere, and we are well-equipped to face this situation," Farrah said.
Bourque was spotted three times around the search area Thursday morning, said Commander Marlene Snowman.
Bourque was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture released by police on Twitter.
At one point, he was seen coming in and out of a wooded area, Snowman said. "He's capable of moving into the wooded area and out," she said.
Investigators have not determined a motive for the shooting Wednesday evening, in which three officers were killed while responding to a call about an armed man. Two other officers were wounded.
Police did not identify the dead or injured officers.
Canada's Parliament observed a moment of silence and the flag on Parliament Hill flew at half-mast.
It 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.
Snowman said Bourque was not known to police.
Schools and government offices were closed, and the city pulled its buses off the roads. Mail delivery was suspended.
Police commandeered armored trucks and told residents to stay indoors.
Commanding Officer Roger Brown said the two wounded officers underwent surgery for non-life-threatening injuries Thursday and he met with their families. One was later released from hospital.
"The RCMP family is hurting. As is Moncton, New Brunswick and our country," Brown said.
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