UPDATED 4:56 p.m. Monday
The Lake Echo man who appears to have killed his wife Saturday night, and then himself, had lost his job as a trucker just a week or two ago, said neighbours.
When the man came home Saturday, he was drunk, “pretty much in the bag,” said a neighbour.
Other neighbours said drinking to excess and flying into violent rages weren’t unusual for Bryce Joudrey, 50, whose body was found by RCMP officers at 12:30 a.m. Sunday after a three-hour standoff.
A teenage boy who lives near the family on Ponderosa Drive said when he used to go over to the Joudreys’ home to see their son, the father would sometimes come home drunk and start wrecking property inside the house.
The boy said Joudrey would take out his anger on his son and daughter, and even on other people’s kids. RCMP were called to the home many times, including at least once within the past year or so, said several neighbours.
Eventually, the boy from down the street wasn’t allowed to go over there anymore.
Joudrey’s son wasn’t home Saturday night when his father apparently shot and killed his mother, Denise Joudrey. But the couple’s teenage daughter was there with her boyfriend, who ran from the house and called 911 from a nearby home, according to accounts neighbours gave Sunday.
The RCMP/Halifax Regional Police integrated major crime unit confirmed Monday afternoon that the incident was a murder-suicide.
RCMP confirmed there were two younger people in the home, one a resident and the other a visitor. Police responded to a 911 call from a home on Ponderosa Drive at 8:16 p.m. Saturday, they said in a news release.
“When we arrived, we found a 47-year old female who was shot and died as a result of her injuries,” Cpl. Scott MacRae said in an interview.
“We believed there was somebody else still in the residence with a firearm, so we entered the residence.”
RCMP said in a second release that they entered the home at 12:30 a.m., about four hours after they arrived. They found a 50-year-old man and pronounced him dead on the scene.
It’s believed he also died from gunshot wounds, MacRae said, but RCMP are waiting for the medical examiner’s results.
Neighbours described a harrowing night on their quiet, lakefront road as some were ordered to evacuate and others watched police dogs being led through the woods behind the Joudrey home, a neat white bungalow.
“I was sitting on my deck here and I heard a couple of pops,” said one close neighbour who didn’t want his name published. “I thought it was a couple of people across the lake getting an early start on fireworks.”
Then he heard a huge number of sirens and realized they were stopping near his front door. About an hour later, at 9:27, an RCMP officer knocked on his front door, the man said.
“He said, ‘Get in your car and get out of here.’ There may be some action here in the next little while.”
The man put some blankets and pillows in his car and drove up the street with his wife.
At one point before he left, he saw the teenage daughter standing in the road with her puppy, he said, and saw her boyfriend safely out of the house as well.
Several neighbours said they had heard reports a gunman had run from the scene, and some local media outlets reported that Saturday night as well.
At one point, a female RCMP officer came into the street, where neighbours had gathered, and shouted at the top of her lungs, said the neighbour who was evacuated.
“She said, ‘Everybody in the house! He’s coming out,’” he said.
But MacRae said that “at this time,” it appears that Joudrey did not leave the house. The activity in the woods was part of the standard RCMP procedure of setting up a boundary around buildings where someone inside is threatening to use a firearm.
Officers on scene decided to bring in the emergency response team, which is trained in standoffs and ultimately found Joudrey’s body. It took the team until about midnight to arrive, MacRae estimated, but he said that doesn’t mean Joudrey was alive for those hours.
“Things were actually pretty quiet, and there’s protocols police follow to make contact with anyone inside the house, and that was done without any success,” he said.
“You can imagine, when you have shots fired, people being hurt by gunshots. It was quite a chaotic scene.”
Another rumour repeated in Lake Echo was that the two teens were threatened. MacRae said he wasn’t able to provide information on that point.
“I would imagine during any dispute or anything involving a firearm, it would be a normal human reaction to feel threatened. Again, only the people who were involved directly last night could answer that.
“Any situation that results in the tragic death of two people, there’s emotions involved. It’s a sad day, and the people will be affected forever.”
Denise Joudrey used to be a hairdresser and sometimes cut hair from home. She also recently worked as a continuing-care assistant at a nursing home, said a former co-worker.
Some people nearby on Ponderosa had known her for years, and one since childhood. The mother of two was a friendly and decent woman, neighbours said.
She had kicked out her husband for a period. However, he came back, and since then, she had seemed less outgoing, one neighbour said.
Several nearby neighbours barely knew the family. The man who was evacuated said he had a bad “gut instinct” about Bryce Joudrey when he met him this year. Joudrey was an avid hunter and the man said he came across as “rough and rugged.”
But the mother who stopped her son from spending time at the Joudrey home said the father was good company when he hadn’t been drinking.
Joudrey “was a really nice guy,” said the boy’s mother, who didn’t want to be identified.
She said Joudrey “was just very troubled.”