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Thousands attend visitation for fallen Moncton Mounties

Thousands lined up in Moncton on Monday to pay their respects to three RCMP officers shot dead in a standoff last week.

Canadian flags draped the caskets at the public visitation. The caskets, placed side by side, held the bodies of the three Mounties. Handwritten notes and pictures from children were scattered along a growing wall of flowers and teddy bears outside RCMP Headquarters.

Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, David Ross and Douglas Larche were shot and killed by a rifle-toting gunman last Wednesday evening.

Two of their colleagues were wounded but are now out of hospital.

Seventy-five Toronto police officers will be among thousands of police officers flying to Moncton from across the country for Tuesday’s RCMP Regimental funeral.

In the wake of the 30-hour manhunt that ended early Friday, police are still searching a wide area and are looking for people who might have photos or video to build their case.

Officers are scouring a wooded area where the suspect, Justin Bourque, was arrested. Officials would only say it was because of major safety concerns. They also were asking people to check their property for items the gunman might have been carrying.

The City of Moncton has set up at least five other sites where people can gather to mourn on Tuesday because of the large number who want to attend the funeral.

There will be no public transit in Moncton on Tuesday because the vehicles are needed to support the funeral.

Aicha Salah, whose mother is a retired Mountie, said the the violent deaths hit close to home.

“It’s been difficult but we’re staying strong, especially thinking about her colleagues, who are still dealing with all this,” Salah said.

Moncton city spokeswoman Isabelle LeBlanc said that the outpouring of support goes beyond the local detachment.

“It’s certainly a trying time for all of us,” she explained. “But in times like it’s really when the community comes together and this is no exception.”

She said hundreds of people are offering up their homes to the 5,000-7,000 officers expected from across North America.

Greeting those officers will be the men and women who volunteered for the honour guard standing watch over their fallen brothers.

“It’s very difficult,” said Const. Jeff Agnew of the Moncton RCMP detachment. “We’ll try to do our best to keep a strong front as they would want us to.”

Canadians are being asked to wear red on Tuesday to show support for the fallen officers and their families.

There will be a parade before the funeral which begins at noon ET at the Moncton Coliseum.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston will be there.