Thousands of police officers and first responders from across the country are expected to attend a regimental funeral Saturday for two Fredericton constables killed in the line of duty, in what’s expected to be a strong show of support for a police force in mourning.
Martin Gaudet, Fredericton’s deputy police chief, said Wednesday that organizing the event is a “monumental task” as members of the force grieve the loss of constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns.
“The hardest thing for me in regards to arranging all of this is to simply move on one hour at a time or one day at a time,” Gaudet said Wednesday outside the Fredericton police department.
“We are going to celebrate their lives and we’re going to do it with dignity and with respect. That’s the task and we’re not going to fail.”
He said a large portion of those who gather at the Aitken University Centre will be uniformed officers from around the country.
“We are expecting thousands of law enforcement personnel and first responders from around the continent to join us to pay tribute to our fallen officers,” Gaudet said.
The police constables were gunned down during a shooting at a north end Fredericton apartment complex Friday that also claimed the lives of Bobbie Lee Wright and Donnie Robichaud.
The Burns family issued a statement Wednesday, explaining that they have been quiet only because she was “the most private person any of us have ever met.”
“All this attention would be terrifying to her,” said her husband, Steven Burns.
“Instead she would want each and every person who is grieving to know that she absolutely loved what she did for a living and the most important people in her world were her two families, her immediate family and the Fredericton Police Force.”
He said she could “brighten a room with her smile in an instant and make anyone feel at ease seconds later with just a few words.
“Sara was put on this earth to help people and everything she has ever done in life was to help people,” Burns said. “We are so proud of the person and human being that she was, and we will miss her dearly.”
He added that, “Sara would insist that the Bobbie Lee Wright and Donald Adam Robichaud not be forgotten because their family and friends are grieving no less and their lives are no less important.”
Although the regimental funeral is not open to the public due to space constraints, public gatherings to view the funeral will be held at the Grant-Harvey Centre and the Hope City Church.
The public is also encouraged to line the streets of Fredericton for a parade procession made up of police officers and first responders that will precede the funeral.
A public visitation for Burns and Costello is being held Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., in the ballroom of the Fredericton Convention Centre.
Meanwhile, a public visitation was expected to be held Wednesday for another victim of the deadly shooting spree at a Fredericton apartment complex.
In an obituary published by Carleton Funeral Home in Jacksonville, N.B., Bobbie Lee Wright is remembered as a compassionate person who loved to help others.
The obituary said Wright graduated from Canterbury High School in 2003 and from New Brunswick Community College with a diploma in medical office administration in 2008.
The 32-year-old woman had previously worked on a tree farm, in catering and in an office before embarking on a career as a home support worker.
“She found the good in everyone and in every situation, and put others before herself,” the obituary said. “She enjoyed camping, tubing, bonfires and late nights spent making memories and reminiscing with friends and family.”
Matthew Vincent Raymond has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
He is set to appear in court on Aug. 27.
Meanwhile, lawyers appeared in court Wednesday to discuss a publication ban on certain court documents in the case.
The province’s Court of Queen’s Bench issued the ban on Monday, hours after media reported their contents.
Public prosecutor Cameron Gunn told the court that the Crown was prepared to lift the blanket publication ban.
He said an amended order seeking a more ”narrow ban” has been filed instead. It would unseal the documents but continue to block the publication of names of individuals who have not spoken with media yet.
“We’ve made our best efforts to limit this ban,” Gunn told the court, noting that the amended order strikes a balance between freedom of expression and the open court principle with the right to a fair trial.
But David Coles, a lawyer representing various media outlets, told the court there was no basis for sealing the identities of individuals named in the court documents.
He said the names would be in the public domain during the trial, and that reporters could learn the names from other sources.
“The way this order reads, even if they learn the identities independently they can’t publish them,” Coles told the court. “I don’t think there is authority for the court to do that.”
He said media have already reported on the names and sequence of events included in the documents, and that ”you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Judy Clendening has reserved her decision until Friday morning.
Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press