A Fredericton business owner who knew the 48-year-old man accused in a deadly shooting in the city described him as a “lonely person” who spent much of his time biking and playing first-person shooter video games.
Brendan Doyle, the former owner of recently closed Read’s Newsstand & Cafe in Fredericton, said he also asked Matthew Vincent Raymond to stop frequenting his coffee shop after he allegedly expressed Islamophobic views and shared his dislike for Syrian refugees with patrons.
“He’d been coming in on almost daily for a coffee since 2010 and often stayed for an hour or two on the patio in the evenings,” Doyle said in a Facebook message Sunday evening to The Canadian Press.
“He was the kind of lonely person who would talk your ear off if you let him.”
Raymond has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder after a shooting Friday in New Brunswick’s capital that claimed the lives of police officers Robb Costello and Sara Burns, as well as Bobbie Lee Wright and her boyfriend, Donnie Robichaud.
“While in the cafe, Matt also looked at magazines about bikes and about guns,” Doyle said. “He expressed an interest in owning the various high-end bikes in the magazines, but his interest in guns seemed to be related to his video games.”
He said Raymond had been coming in almost daily for coffee from 2010 up until 2017 when Doyle asked him to find coffee somewhere else.
“I saw him one weekend in front of city hall with a sandwich board sign that said ‘No Sharia,’ and other anti-Islamic sentiments.”
He said he spoke to Raymond to determine how extreme his views were.
“I determined he was ignorant and misinformed,” Doyle said. “He really just seemed to be parroting the talking points from some videos he’s seen.”
Doyle is among the many people trying to make sense of Friday’s shooting, including those who came to a memorial Sunday at the Fredericton police headquarters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he met with families of the fallen Fredericton police officers Sunday, and told their children that mourning is made a bit easier when you’ve got the whole country’s support.
Speaking to reporters, he appeared to allude to the public support he received after the death of his own father, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
“I talked to their kids and highlighted something that I had experienced was that when you have a whole community, and indeed a whole country, supporting you through terrible grief, it actually does make it a little bit easier – not much easier but a little bit easier,” he said.
Trudeau had planned to march in Sunday’s Pride parade in Fredericton, but his plans changed after the shooting.
A subdued Pride parade went ahead Sunday afternoon, with Mayor Mike O’Brien calling it a way for Fredericton’s residents to begin healing.
“It’s a way for our community to start rebuilding our faith in community and having a celebration,” O’Brien said Saturday. “There’s a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief.”
It began with a moment of silence, and parade organizers said in a Facebook post that they were marching “in appreciation of our Chief of Police Leanne Fitch, the first responders and all the officers who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep us safe.”
The force announced Sunday that a regimental funeral “to celebrate the lives of our fallen members” will be held on Saturday at the Aitken University Centre at the University of New Brunswick.