A man suspected to have killed three Mounties and injured two others after shootings in Moncton, N.B., was spotted Thursday morning but police were unable to apprehend him, the RCMP said.
Commanding Officer Roger Brown said the most recent sighting of the suspect was just after daylight Thursday and they were able to positively identify him.
``Unfortunately, at this particular point in time, I don't have all the answers to all the questions,'' Brown told a news conference.
``This is working through your worst nightmare.''
Supt. Marlene Snowman said officers were unable to confirm the suspect's identity on two other occasions when he might have been sighted. Officers continued to search for the shooter, who she said was carrying high-powered firearms, more than 16 hours after their manhunt began.
Police officers from across the country have been brought in to help arrest the suspect, said Brown, the Mounties' commanding officer in New Brunswick.
The RCMP were searching for 24-year-old Justin Bourque, a Moncton man who was wearing military camouflage and carrying two rifles in a picture of him released by police on Twitter on Wednesday night.
Residents in the area where police searched have been urged to stay inside their homes and lock their doors.
Schools and government offices were closed, and city buses were pulled off the roads.
Brown said the two wounded officers underwent surgery in hospital Thursday and he met with the families of the officers who were shot.
Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
``As you can all imagine, they're hurting,'' said Brown.
``There's actually no way to describe the level of hurt.''
He did not release the names of the officers who were shot because police were still notifying relatives.
The two injured officers were being treated for wounds that the RCMP described as non life-threatening.
On Twitter, the RCMP released a map of a large portion of the city where they wanted people to remain inside with their doors locked. They warned people to expect roadblocks and traffic disruptions as the manhunt continued.
Police believed the suspect was at large in the Pinehurst subdivision area of the city early on Thursday morning. Police first responded at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, he said.
Danny Leblanc, 42, said he saw the shooter in the distance Wednesday evening, wearing a camouflage outfit and standing in the middle of the street with a gun pointed at police cars. The construction worker said he believed it was an RCMP officer until he heard a burst of automatic gunfire coming from the man's gun. ``That guy was standing on the road afterwards and he was looking towards us,'' he said.
He said he quickly retreated into his home with his family, adding a neighbour posted on social media that a kitchen window was shattered by gunfire. Leblanc said few people on his normally quiet street were sleeping as they awaited word at midnight on whether arrests had been made.
``It's just crazy. We're chatting with our friends on Facebook and we're not going to bed until this guy is caught. I'm sure nobody in Moncton is sleeping because he seems to be all over the place,'' he said. The deaths of the three officers has shocked the city, he said.
``It's devastating. I don't know if he was on a hunt for them, or what,'' said Leblanc. Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those affected by the shootings. ``We also offer our prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured,'' he said in a statement. ``This violent incident is a stark reminder that our men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line in Canada every day to protect our citizens and communities. ``The sacrifice of these brave officers will be honoured and remembered.''
Mayor George LeBlanc also offered his condolences to the families of the police officers who were killed and those who were injured. ``It is a terrible tragedy,'' he said. ``We as a city must pull together as a family to support those who have suffered losses.''
Based on information from the RCMP's Honour Roll page on its website, the last Mountie to die from a gunshot was Const. Douglas Scott on Nov. 5, 2007. He was shot while responding to a call for help involving an impaired driver at Kimmirut, Nunavut.
The most recent police officer killed in the line of duty was Const. Steve Dery of the Kativik police force in northern Quebec. Dery, 27, was shot and killed after he and another constable responded to a domestic violence call on March 2, 2013.
The shootings in Moncton also brought back memories of an RCMP tragedy in Mayerthorpe, Alta., on March 3, 2005, when Constables Anthony Fitzgerald Orion Gordon, Lionide (Leo) Nicholas Johnston, Brock Warren Myrol and Peter Christopher Schiemann were shot and killed.
Officials with the Horizon Health Network said the Moncton Hospital was treating two people who were listed in stable condition. The hospital was placed on Code Orange after the shootings to prepare it to handle multiple casualties as extra staff were brought in.