MONCTON, N.B. -- A type of quiet settled over the neighbourhood where Justin Bourque grew up Friday as residents struggled with news that a man raised in a well-liked, church-going family was now at the centre of one of New Brunswick's worst mass killings.

Residents in the west-end Moncton district expressed a mix of sadness, disbelief and concern for the family after Bourque's arrest in the shooting deaths of three Mounties.

A man who described himself as Bourque's childhood friend teared up as he stood in front of the family home, saying he was trying to figure out what happened to his pal, how he could end up accused of lashing out with such violence.

"I've known him since I was eight," said the man who didn't want to be named. "I was just hoping that they were here because I wanted to share my condolences. ... It's unbelievable."

Three officers were killed and two were wounded on Wednesday night.

Bourque made his first court appearance Friday charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

A local church administrator said it had been many years since she had seen Bourque, who moved out of the family home about 18 months ago.

But Dianne LeBlanc said his parents never missed a Sunday service at the Roman Catholic church around the corner from their home. They often arrived, she added, with at least a couple of their grown children in tow.

"They're a good family," LeBlanc said in the diocese offices adjacent to the church.

"They were such good Catholics. I'm sure (parishioners) are very sad for them."

LeBlanc added that parents Victor and Denise home-schooled their children, who were raised with French as their first language.

"I didn't know of any troubles," she said of the 24-year-old suspect, who was apprehended by police a few kilometres from his childhood home.

"They're very quiet. It's shocking."

Others in the neighbourhood were protective of the family.

A woman who lived across the street only offered a short response to reporters by saying people in the leafy residential area had received news of the arrest "very sadly." She refused to share any more information about her neighbours.

"My heart is with the family," said the woman, who did not want to give her name.

The Canadian Press did not get a response at the family home on Friday.

The man next door to the Bourques said he was concerned for the well-being of Bourque's parents, a couple he described as kind and friendly.

John Doubt said Victor Bourque has shovelled his driveway and watered his flowers whenever he's been out of town.

"My heart really goes out to them, they must be in terrible shape," said Doubt, who has been living next door for the last 17 months.

-- With files from Alison Auld in Halifax.