Last year, the world had its eyes glued to coverage of the manhunt for a suspect accused of planting bombs at the Boston Marathon.
This year, the manhunt that shut down a city was much closer to home: it happened in Moncton, New Brunswick, as the city essentially closed up so Mounties could locate a suspect accused of murdering three of their own and wounding two others.
The mayhem started Wednesday evening and lasted well over 24 hours.
As the search for the 24-year-old shooter dressed in military fatigues bearing two rifles continued, seeming more desperate with every passing hour, it was nearly impossible to look away from Twitter and TV news channels.
The tension was nearly palpable, even from the other side of the country.
Regardless of the fact the situation was unfolding on the other coast, I was absolutely glued to coverage. It was happening in Canada, at home.
One tweet I read commented that RCMP and hockey are two of the most Canadian things that unite this diverse country.
For residents of Moncton, the horror harkened back to the 1974 killings of two RCMP officers.
There are similar horror stories from other provinces as well, including the murders of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta in 2005, and that of Manitoba RCMP officer Dennis Strongquill in 2001.
The bravery it must take for more officers to come together to search for the person charged with murdering three of their own is practically unimaginable.
It is a sad day for all Canadians when those charged with protecting us – all of us – are at risk. Few things are able to connect people like tragedy and loss.
In the beginning, people on my obsessively-refreshed Twitter feed seemed to be shocked that a shooting spree such as this could happen in Canada. Of course, it’s not the first mass shooting in the country, but it is rare and that rarity is evidenced by our shock.
This, on the same day a man gunned down one person at the Seattle Pacific University campus. Had that shooter not been subdued by other people on the scene when he stopped to reload, there’s no telling what the body count may have been.
This is a sobering reminder that tragedy – violent tragedy – can happen anywhere. And that hits close to home.
Even as the search for the suspect continued, people began tactlessly using this as a platform to push their political agendas on issues such as gun control and privacy, and other issues such as mental health and media glorification.
It is useless to speculate on whether different laws or health care could have prevented this from happening or changed the outcome, but there is a time and place for debate intended to prevent a future tragedy.
As it stands, three people were killed and dozens of lives changed forever. Right now, do the decent thing and just show some solidarity with those in uniform, in whatever form that takes.
Many local people have already done just that by passing their well wishes, flowers and cards to the local RCMP detachment.
Anyone wishing to send condolences can send them directly to the Codiac detachment via email to [email protected].