Police officer who was killed in Ontario was ‘essentially ambushed’

Sharif Hassan, The Canadian Press

HAGERSVILLE, Ont. — The OPP officer who was shot and killed while on duty was “essentially ambushed,” according to the police chief.

Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala, 28, responded to a call about a vehicle that ended up in a ditch just west of Hagersville, Ont., on Tuesday afternoon. As soon as he arrived at the scene, he was shot dead.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday evening, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Constable Pierzchala had been at the scene for a short time when he was killed. , and that he did not have time to discharge his own firearm.

« The officer was basically ambushed and had absolutely no chance to defend himself, » Carrique said.

The investigation into the shooting, including the motive and circumstances surrounding it, is still ongoing. Officer Pierzchala wore a camera on his gear during his intervention, Carrique said, and in addition to viewing the footage, investigators will scour the area Thursday looking for witnesses.

After their encounter with the officer, the suspects abandoned the vehicle they were in and fled on foot, according to police. They would then have stolen another vehicle, but it is not yet known if they threatened a citizen with a firearm to seize the racing car.

Randall McKenzie, 25, and Brandi Crystal Lyn Stewart-Sperry, 30, each face first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Constable Pierzchala.

The connection between the two suspects has not been publicly confirmed. Asked about this at the press conference, Mr. Carrique replied that he did not know the answer to the question.

Not allowed to have a gun

Court documents show that Randall McKenzie had a history with the justice system.

A 2021 document from the Parole Board of Canada indicates that he is from the Onondaga First Nations of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. He was serving a nearly three-year sentence for robbery, assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon and other charges when his release was revoked that year because he breached his conditions.

The suspect has been banned for life from owning a firearm since 2018 and was charged in 2021 with multiple weapons offenses in addition to assaulting a peace officer, Carrique said.

He failed to appear for a court appearance in September, when additional charges were brought against him and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Mr Carrique said he was “outraged” that the man was out on bail at the time of the shooting.

“This should never have happened. Something has to change, he said. Our police, your police, my police and the public deserve protection from violent offenders charged with firearms offences.”

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

“We wish them healing and peace,” the statement read.

The family pointed out that Mr McKenzie had a difficult childhood and fell into drug abuse at an early age.

« Everyone is struggling to deal with this situation and is extremely hurt, » the family statement read.

Details regarding Constable Pierzchala’s funeral are expected to be announced in the coming days.

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