Fredericton shooter tells his murder trial he believed it was the end of times

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FREDERICTON — The man on trial for a 2018 mass shooting in Fredericton told jurors Tuesday that in the days before the killings he was barricaded inside his apartment and thought everyone outside was a "demon" out to get him.

"I got my guns at some point," Matthew Raymond testified. "I just stayed in my apartment. I thought the end of times was in full swing."

Raymond, 50, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the Aug. 10, 2018 deaths of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns.

The defence and Crown agree Raymond killed the victims and that he had a mental illness. Raymond's lawyers are trying to prove he should be found not criminally responsible because the mental disorder rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature of his actions.

Testifying in his own defence, Raymond said that in the year before the shootings, he came to believe major news events were fake.

"Everything in the news, major happenings, even traffic accidents, I felt were staged," Raymond said of the thoughts that began in 2017. "I thought some court cases were also fake. I thought the lawyers were real but knew it was not a real happening."

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham asked, "Do you still believe that now?"

"No," Raymond replied. He told the jury he stopped believing those things around the time he was being treated in the Restigouche hospital following his arrest. 

Raymond told the court he used numerology to uncover who was a "demon" and which events were hoaxes. "I came to that conclusion more often than not," Raymond said, explaining that to him the number 33 1/3 indicated angels cast out of heaven.

The numbers he came up with, he said, often corresponded to the time of day or the timestamp from the moment he stopped a video to capture a still image. Raymond told the jury he thought God had given him the power to stop the videos at important moments.

He testified that in August 2018, he was still troubled by the hoaxes and demons.

In the days before the shootings, Raymond said, he heard a young boy outside his window saying, "Come out and play, baby." He said the boy was from an immigrant family and he took it as a threat because Raymond had earlier protested over the number of immigrants being allowed into Canada.

"I was scared," he said. "I feared for my life and they were all coming after me now. I thought the end of times was coming."

Raymond said he heard thumping on his walls and later on his door and thought demons were all against him.

"Why against you?" Gorham asked.

"Because they knew who I was, because of the protests," Raymond replied.

He said at one point he had his loaded rifle in his hands and was pacing around his apartment. He saw a young man who was walking beside one of the apartment buildings in the complex and thought about shooting him but didn't. He said the man was wearing a Superman T-shirt, which he interpreted as the sign of a serpent.

Raymond mostly referred to the shootings on Aug. 10, 2018 as "the incident". At one point Tuesday he referred to them as the "event" and began crying because of his choice of words. 

Raymond said that on the night of Aug. 9 he didn't sleep and did mathematical calculations on pieces of paper all night. The jury was shown pictures of the papers and the random calculations. 

Earlier Tuesday, the court heard a recording of the police interview with his mother, Shirley Raymond, on the day of the shootings.

She told police she thought her son was disturbed, but she never thought it would result in him harming anyone. 

His mother told police Raymond had been spending a lot of time on his computer and she thought he may have been chatting with someone “who was turning his mind.”

At one point during the police interview she broke down crying, saying, "people are dead, and could I have done something?"

Matthew Raymond is to continue his testimony Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press