Funeral of slain OPP officer scheduled for Jan. 4

First responders will escort the body of Grzegorz « Greg » Pierzchala on Friday, as the province and the OPP service mourn the officer who was fatally shot this week.

Pierzchala, 28, was killed Tuesday while responding to a report of a vehicle in a ditch. He had passed his probation a few hours earlier, marking a milestone for the young man who decided at the age of five that he wanted to be a police officer.

The motorcade will leave the Center of Forensic Sciences in Toronto at 9 a.m. and head north on Highway 400 to Barrie, according to a Thursday press release from the Ontario Provincial Police. A police funeral will be held in Barrie on Wednesday, January 4. More details are expected once they have been finalized.

Pierzchala was a member of the Haldimand Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police. He was shot on the afternoon of December 27, after responding to a call about a vehicle in a ditch on Indian Line at Concession 14 Walpole, on the border of Haldimand County and the Mississaugas of the First Nation of Credit.

He later died in hospital.

Randall McKenzie, 25, and Brandi Crystal Lyn Stewart-Sperry, 30, have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death. They each made a brief appearance in court in Cayuga on Wednesday.

Around the Haldimand County community, the grieving process is underway.

Blue lights and blue and black bows made by a Hagersville and District Chamber of Commerce volunteer were displayed this week to honor Pierzchala.

And as Ontarians, public figures and politicians across Canada took to social media to offer their condolences, the Hyslop family of Caledonia began collecting tributes at Pierzchala for Haldimand’s detachment.

One is a painting of a large rainbow. Another is covered in hearts. Five-year-old Harper Hyslop even included created a self-portrait with a policeman, with the message “Police keep us safe” written above.

Harper said she supports the police “because they help us. They protect us.

Although the Ontario Provincial Police invited first responders and members of the public to view the motorcade from freeway overpasses on Friday, they are asking people not to pull over on the road and get out of vehicles , due to security risks.

Pierzchala is the fourth Ontario police officer to be shot since September. In October, the funerals of two other deceased officers, Const. Morgan Russell and Const. Devon Northrup, also took place in Barrie and attracted hundreds of attendees. The officers were killed in response to a domestic disturbance call near Innisfil.

At a press conference Wednesday night, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique provided insight into the circumstances leading up to Pierzchala’s death. Carrique said new Constable Pierzchala, who had not discharged his weapon, was « essentially ambushed » in a situation where he « had absolutely no chance of being able to defend himself ».

The motive and timing of the killing are all under investigation, Carrique said.

The commissioner added that he was « outraged » that McKenzie – who had been charged with several violent offenses in late 2021 – had been released on bail.

Court documents obtained by The Hamilton Spectator show McKenzie was free since late June – about six months after being charged with offenses related to an alleged incident of domestic violence in Hamilton.

Hamilton police arrested McKenzie in early December 2021, charging him with 12 assault and firearms offenses, the documents show.

Three of the charges related to the alleged assault of three people – one of whom was a peace officer, according to court records. Four other charges related to illegal possession of a handgun without a license.

McKenzie was denied bail while awaiting trial in Hamilton, documents show.

But after the decision was reviewed, McKenzie was released on bail in June on the condition that he wear a GPS monitor, report to police twice a week, live on bail and not possess a weapon. He was only allowed to leave his home with his surety in the event of a medical emergency, to attend meetings with his lawyer or attend consultations.

After McKenzie failed to appear in court in August, a warrant was issued for his arrest, documents show. He did not appear in connection with that case, records show. The documents do not give reasons for bail decisions.

According to a 2021 parole report, McKenzie is from the Onondaga First Nations of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. At the time, he was serving a nearly three-year sentence after he robbed a restaurant at gunpoint and then stole the owner’s vehicle in 2017, before turning himself in a month later, the document said.

In a written statement to The Canadian Press, McKenzie’s family expressed condolences to Pierzchala’s family.

« We wish them healing and peace, » the statement said.

With files from the Hamilton Spectator and The Canadian Press


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