OPP vehicles block a road near the scene of a shooting where one Ontario Provincial Police officer was killed and two others were injured in the town of Bourget, Ont. on Thursday.OPP vehicles block a road near the scene of a shooting where one Ontario Provincial Police officer was killed and two others were injured in the town of Bourget, Ont. on Thursday.

In Bourget, residents said Alain Bellefeuille, accused in the officer’s death, was a dog owner who mostly kept to himself.

BOURGET—Alain Bellefeuille, the 39-year-old man accused of killing an Ontario Provincial Police officer in a village east of Ottawa on Thursday, lived alone in a house tucked into the forest and was unemployed but did odd jobs for cash, according to neighbours and village residents who knew him.

In this close-knit village of 1,200 people, Bellefeuille was known as a hunter, a dog owner and a man who kept to himself and had few close relationships. But many questions still remained as residents looked for answers in the aftermath of the shocking events.

Thalia Cloutier lives with her husband and 10-month-old baby near the edge of a wooded area with a path that leads to the back of Bellefeuille’s residence.

“Going through the forest he would talk to himself,” Cloutier said. He was always alone, she added, and it often sounded like he was shouting.

Sgt. Eric Mueller died in hospital after the shooting, which occurred around 2 a.m. on Thursday as the 42-year-old veteran cop and two other officers responded to a disturbance call.

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Eric Mueller was killed and two other officers were injured after they were shot at a home in a village of Bourget, Ont., east of Ottawa, on Thursday.

Police said the three OPP officers who were shot on Thursday were “ambushed” when they arrived at the home in Bourget. The officers had called for backup before they approached the residence, police said.

Mueller, the latest police officer to be killed in the line of duty in recent months, was a coach and a mentor to colleagues OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Thursday. He was hired as a provincial officer in 2006 and promoted to sergeant in 2018.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Sergeant Mueller’s wife and two young children, to his colleagues and friends. Eric will always be remembered for his service and sacrifice,” the OPP association said in a statement.

Bellefeuille is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Cloutier, 29, knew Bellefeuille as the owner of a dog named Phoenix, a mixed-breed pup that would sometimes appear in her backyard, eager to play with her dog. He was polite and friendly on the occasions when he came by to retrieve his dog, though often appeared to be under the influence of drugs, she said.

Bellefeuille told her that he didn’t graduate from high school. While some Bourget residents said that Bellefeuille had previously worked as a mechanic, he told Cloutier that he didn’t have full-time work but did odd jobs for cash — yard cleanup and minor home repairs.

Bellefeuille owned a gun and would sometimes shoot rabbits in his backyard, Cloutier said, but that didn’t strike her as unusual in a rural community.

He appeared in court on Thursday looking dishevelled and tired. A court-appointed lawyer speaking on his behalf said he had barely slept and didn’t want to answer any questions until he had some rest.

A 43-year-old officer with 19 years of service remains in hospital in stable condition with serious injuries, the OPP said Friday. A 35-year-old officer with 10 years on the force has been released from hospital and is recovering at home.

Court records show Bellefeuille was charged in 2009 for theft under $5,000 dollars but that was withdrawn, and a traffic violation in 2019 in Ottawa but the outcome is unclear. He filed for bankruptcy in 2008 in Gatineau, Que., declaring $301 in assets and $25,000 in liabilities.

One resident who didn’t want to be named said she got to know Bellefeuille and his two dogs while she was working at a local convenience store where he bought cigarettes. She said he steered clear of close relationships but was “respectful, polite and nice.” He loved to hunt and once brought her boar meat, she said. She hadn’t seen him in a couple of years.

“Around here people are known for the kind of cigarettes they smoke,” said local resident Robbyn Annett-Laub, who lives near the scene of the shooting. “He was Talon Red.”

In Bourget on Friday police vehicles were parked near the home where the shooting took place and officers went to and from the property. Police barricades remained in place in some areas and officers were seen going door-to-door.

Veronique Poirier-Larabie had set up a small bunch of colourful flowers outside her home, with Mueller’s name written on a window above. She said his car had been left outside her residence the day before.

“I did not know this officer but he does deserve to be remembered,” said Poirier-Larabie, who moved to Bourget a month ago from Ottawa in search of a quiet community.

“It touched me,” she said of the tragedy. “I did cry.”

Poirier-Larabie said the shooting had resulted in several members of the small village checking in on one another as they processed what happened.

“You don’t expect this to happen,” she said. “This actually brought us probably a little closer.”

With files from the Star’s Omar Mosleh and The Canadian Press.


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