A look at six Canadian police officers who have been killed in the past few months
Six police officers have been killed in Canada since September.
Here is an overview of their cases and who they were:
const. Grzegorz Pierzchala, 28 years old
OPP say Pierzchala was responding to a call for a vehicle in a ditch west of Hagersville, Ont., on Dec. 27 and was shot and killed in an ambush when he was come.
Pierzchala had been with Force for just over a year and had been told he had passed his 10-month probation period hours before his death.
He was previously a special constable at Queen’s Park and as a child dreamed of joining the ranks of the police.
His colleagues remember him as a wonderful officer with « the biggest heart of gold you could imagine ».
Two people have been charged with first degree murder in his death.
const. Shaelyn Yang, 31
Yang was killed after being stabbed in Burnaby, British Columbia on October 18 while trying to issue an eviction notice to a man who was living in a tent at a local park.
During the altercation that led to his death, Yang, an RCMP mental health and homeless outreach officer, shot the man and he survived.
BC Mounties described Yang as a kind and caring person who is passionate about helping people living with mental health issues and experiencing homelessness.
The Independent Investigations Office, the British Columbia police watchdog, said there were no reasonable grounds to believe Yang had committed an offence.
The man has since been charged with first degree murder in his death.
const. Devon Northrup, 33
South Simcoe Police Service Const. Northup was killed alongside his colleague, Morgan Russell, on October 11 after responding to a disturbance call at a home in Innisfil, Ontario.
The province’s police watchdog said none of the officers drew their firearms before they were shot.
The SIU said a 22-year-old man at the home shot the two officers and also died in the shooting.
At his funeral he was remembered by his colleagues as a funny, kind and dedicated frontline worker who served on the Mental Health Crisis Response Team.
His wife, Const. Annie Romard, also a member of the small police force north of Toronto, recalled how they danced together in the kitchen the morning of the day he was shot.
« As always, before any of us walked through that door, we said stay safe, » she said.
« Nor did we know that our lives would be changed forever. »
const. Morgan Russell, 54
Colleagues said Russell ignored promotions and delayed his retirement to continue working on the frontlines for a community he served for 33 years.
A mentor with the South Simcoe Police Force, Russell served on the hiring committee that launched Northrup’s career.
A trained crisis negotiator, his friends remembered Russell as a disciplined officer who knew what to say to help people.
He also prioritized spending time with his family.
Marisa Russell, his partner, recalled at his funeral how he embraced his family before leaving for work. Later she said they learned that they had “lost our source of strength”.
const. Travis Gillespie, 38
Gillespie, a York Regional Police officer, was killed in a car accident on his way to work on September 14.
Gillespie had been with the force for about two years and worked as a special agent for Metrolinx and GO Transit before that. At his funeral, friends said he was also passionate about martial arts.
He is remembered as a family man with a positive attitude, a great sense of humor and a lifelong commitment to community service.
His colleagues also spoke of him as someone who helped them when they were depressed and helped them improve at their jobs.
His partner, Melinda LaPorte, said they spent their 26 years together « being best friends, not realizing that your soul mate was there the whole time. »
23 years old, Markham, Ont. the man faces impaired driving charges in connection with the collision.
const. Andrew Hong, 48
Police say Hong was shot in an ambush Sept. 12 at a Tim Hortons in Mississauga while grabbing coffee for co-workers during a lunch break.
Many who spoke at his funeral – which was attended by thousands of officers from across North America – said the fact that he was looking for coffee was indicative of his generosity .
Relatives described Hong as a natural teacher who not only taught various skills to his children, but also someone who also gave valuable lessons to his trainees in the police motorcycle unit.
Colleagues said he was working his ‘dream job’ in traffic services and his wife, Jenny, said his role as a trainer was ‘where it belonged’.
Investigators say the man who killed Hong then shot three people at a body shop in Milton, Ontario. – killing two people and injuring one – before being killed by police in Hamilton.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 29, 2022.
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