MONCTON, N.B. – Three Mounties slain in the line of duty will be remembered today in Moncton as thousands of their fellow police officers join loved ones and grateful citizens to say goodbye.
The RCMP regimental funeral service for constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Douglas James Larche and Dave Joseph Ross will be televised from the Moncton Coliseum.
Mayor George LeBlanc says he expects between 5,000 and 7,000 police officers to attend the funeral, which begins at 1 p.m., and it will be preceded by an RCMP parade scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m.
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 the city has set up at least five other sites 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.