Families of slain officers remember their passion for the job

The police officers killed in a north Fredericton shooting are being remembered by their families as kind, caring individuals with a devotion to their duty and community service.

Const. Sara Mae Helen Burns, 43, and Const. Lawrence Robert (Robb) Costello, 45, died Friday during a morning shooting at a Brookside Drive apartment complex.

Two civilians —  Donald Adam Robichaud, 42, and Bobbie Lee Wright, 32 — were also killed, and 48-year-old Matthew Vincent Raymond is in custody, charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

The families of both officers released a joint statement Saturday evening.

‘Sara absolutely loved her job’

“Sara absolutely loved her job, and went to work each shift committed to serving this great community,” read the portion from the Burns family.

“We appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers during the difficult time, and respectfully ask for privacy as we grieve.”

Burns, who was born in Scotland and moved to Canada at the age of seven, leaves behind a husband, three sons and a large extended family.

Fredericton police officer Sara Burns, 43, leaves behind a husband and three children. (Facebook)

The Fredericton High School graduate married her husband, Steven, in 1999 and the couple started a family soon after. Burns (née Pirie) was a stay-at-home mom for 14 years before she decided to chase her dream of becoming a police officer.

She attended the Holland College Police Sciences program, served as an auxiliary officer for two years and was sworn into the Fredericton Police Force in 2016.

When she was hired, police told reporters how excited they were to have her on patrol because she was from the area.

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“Not a day would go by when she didn’t say aloud, for everyone to hear, ‘I love my job,'” her obituary stated.

Earlier this year, Burns and her husband raised money for Liberty Lane, an organization that provides housing for women and children affected by domestic violence.

A small memorial to the Fredericton Police Force and the two slain officers has popped up at the police station in the city’s downtown. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Burns and Costello were the first on scene the apartment complex Friday, according to Fredericton police. They were shot trying to help the civilians.

“We would also like to thank all of the members of the Fredericton Police Force who came to her side and the first responders for their courageous efforts during a difficult time,” her obituary stated.

“Please know that she loved each and every one of you and was proud to serve beside you.”

The Burns family has established a Sara Burns Police Memorial Fund to support local charities.

‘I cannot even begin to imagine my life without him’

Costello, a 20-year veteran of the force known to most as Robb, is being remembered by family, friends and colleagues as a positive force at home, at work and in the community.

“Robb was the single most positive person I have ever met; and that was obvious to everyone who met him,” read the statement from his partner Jackie McLean on behalf of his family.

“He had a special way of dealing with people — fair, but strong and tough when needed. He was the only officer I’ve ever known to write a ticket and have the recipient thank him for it.”

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Costello is also survived by his four children.

Costello worked in various units throughout his career, including as a detective. He was previously assigned to the RCMP’s internet child exploitation unit and, in social media posts, often discussed the dangers officers face on the job, especially the Mounties who were gunned down in Moncton four years ago.

One image he reposted said: “If you think it’s OK to kill or attack police officers, unfollow me now.”

“Robb loved the Unit work, but loved being on patrol even more,” McLean’s statement read. “He was often heard to say he was a ‘CFL’ — Constable for life.”

He served as Fredericton-area vice-president for the New Brunswick Police Association. Past president Dean Secord knew him well, saying his death is a “big loss.”

“We’ve lost a friend. We’ve lost a brother,” Secord said.

Shawn Rouse, a childhood friend from Sussex Corner, said he was a kind, athletic individual who made time for everyone.

“He always was the cool guy in class, but he was kind to everybody. Talked to everybody, no matter who you were,” Rouse said.

McLean said her partner was a dedicated family man as well as her best friend and soulmate.

“We shared a love of one another that I only believed existed in the movies, except this was real life and it really happened,” she said. “I cannot even begin to imagine my life without him.”

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Funeral arrangements have yet to be released.


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