KENTVILLE, NS - Stephanie Geneau-Johnsen was still in shock hours after a shooting in Fredericton left four people – including two police officers - dead Aug. 10.
Geneau-Johnsen, who is originally from Kentville and has lived in the area for about five years now, usually delivers flyers in the Brookside Drive area and lives about 10 minutes away from the area where the shooting occurred.
Geneau-Johnsen heard about the shooting from her best friend, who was waiting in the drive-through line at a nearby Tim Hortons when the shooting occurred.
“She called and said, ‘Steph, I think there’s a shooting.’ And I could hear what sounded like pops in the background,” Geneau-Johnsen wrote in a brief online interview.
“I didn’t believe it so I said it must be fire crackers. She’s like, ‘No, Steph, there’s police swarming the area’.”
The two texted back and forth in the tense moments afterwards as her friend recounted seeing police officers in vests, police cars and hearing a number of shots.
Her friend, she says, “is very shook up. She feels sick, gross. Those were her words.”
Geneau-Johnsen feels much the same way.
“Still in shock,” she said. “I know they have the suspect and they are in hospital but it’s still scary. Fredericton is a beautiful city and it’s been crazy. My mom called me worried. It’s such a crazy thing.”
She added, “Fredericton is a beautiful city and that this was not a normal event. All of Fredericton is standing together for the fallen officers and the families that have lost loved ones.”
‘It can happen anywhere’
Sean Miller is from Falmouth and has been living in Fredericton for the past year. He resides only a few moments from where the shooting occurred and, while he didn’t hear shots, he did hear the sirens that pierced the air.
“I will be honest - something like this can happen anywhere now. Not just the big cities,” he said, adding that he’s praying for the people affected by the shooting.
“I know the police community are a tight group. Basically, someone lost a spouse, a parent, a child or a friend. Death is never easy, especially unexpected events like this.”
Miller says the shooting brings back memories of a shooting in Moncton four years ago, which left
He hopes that area residents will keep the city and the victims of the tragedy in their thoughts in the coming days.
“Send prayers for the officers that have fallen to their family and coworkers. I am sure the city will struggle with this for a while,” he added.
Miller paints a picture of a quiet neighbourhood.
“You have a mix of houses in higher price range on Douglas. You have apartments, condos, businesses like strip malls and you have the big mall across the highway with stores such as Sobeys. It is families, young and older. Lots people always out walking dogs. It would be comparable to a Bedford area,” he says.
The shooting occurred near what he describes as a lower-end rental. He added that local businesses like daycares were taking measures to ensure safety and said people were feeling “shock and sadness.”
“On vacation so just at my house. I will venture out after, but it will be a feeling of disbelief,” he added.
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Police community shaken
Kentville Police Services lowered the flags outside the police station to half-mast to remember the fallen Fredericton officers. Const. Jason Sehl said the news struck close to home.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen officers, the Fredericton Police Department and anyone who may be affected,” he said.
Details remained scarce mid-afternoon, but police in every province feel connected, he said.
“When a tragedy like this takes place, it makes you realize it can happen anywhere, at any place, at any time. The officers are there to do their jobs and they did it right. Now there are two police officers with families left behind,” he said.
“Something like this is in the back of your mind every time you walk out the door and get in the car. It’s always present, but you don’t dwell on it.”
But, he says, when something like this occurs, it strikes home. It brings back memories of shootings that killed police officers in Moncton four years ago and Mayerthorpe, Alberta in 2005.
“Let’s be clear – what these are is murder. It’s a conscious decision to take another human life,” Sehl said.
As more details come out, while it won’t soften the blow, he hopes it will help people understand what happened.
He’s hoping area residents will keep the families of the fallen officers in their thoughts and prayers in the coming days.
“The family members have lost sisters, mothers, fathers, sons. They’re the ones that allow (police officers) to go out every day,” he said.
“Police officers know that there’s some inherent risk with this job. You hope something like this never happens, but the risk is there and you accept it. The family members never signed up for this, but they allow the officers to go every day knowing that risk is there.”