SUMMERSIDE - The former head of the Atlantic Police Academy says he was broken up over the news that one of his former students was a victim of the deadly shooting in Fredericton.
In an interview with The Guardian, former executive director of the Atlantic Police Academy Edgar MacLeod said he was shocked and saddened to learn Const. Sara Burns had been shot and killed Friday.
“She represents the best of the best,” he said.
Burns, 43, and fellow Fredericton police Const. Robb Costello, 45, were the first two victims identified in the Friday shooting.
The other victims have been identified as Bobbie Lee Wright, 32, and Donald Adam Robichaud, 42.
Burns, who had been with the Fredericton police force for two years, was a student at the police academy in Summerside in 2015 where MacLeod got the chance to know her.
Costello, who was a 20-year veteran of the force, noted on his Facebook page that he also studied at Holland College.
With 10 years spent at the academy, MacLeod said he graduated hundreds of police recruits, but Burns was a standout.
While there, Burns was a course leader who communicated directly to the executive director on matters of importance.
“She was very, very mature, very responsible,” MacLeod said.
He also said she was a very determined cadet.
“She gathered a tremendous amount of respect from everybody.”
As course leader, MacLeod said Burns’ job was to represent her peers and make sure they were functioning as a team.
“She was one of these people that have qualities to bring people together.”
MacLeod said Burns could have gotten a job anywhere after graduation, but she waited until an opportunity arose in Fredericton where she was living with her family.
“She was very compassionate, very caring,” he said.
One memory of Burns that MacLeod shared from her time at the police academy involved a regimental dinner a few days before the cadets graduated.
Burns sat next to MacLeod at the head table where she talked about her husband, her children and her parents.
MacLeod, who was a former police chief in Cape Breton, said he could remember thinking that she would have been the first person he would hire if he was a chief.
“I would hire her in a heartbeat. She could make a police department. She could lift people up, she was that kind of person,” he said.
When the cadets graduated, MacLeod met her family and said he could remember how proud her children were of their mother.
“She was an exceptional police recruit.”
Matthew Vincent Raymond of Fredericton has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting and will remain in custody until an Aug. 27 court appearance.