A 19-year-old man who Edmonton police allege trafficked a gun that was used by a 16-year-old boy to shoot and kill two constables in March has been charged with three counts of manslaughter.
“The manslaughter charges in this case is unique,” said EPS Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve had illegal firearms trafficked … We’ve had other circumstances where firearms that have been sold illegally and used in … horrific shooting events.”
But what was unique in this investigation, Stewart said, was “the chain of evidence that allowed us to get to these charges.”
Const. Brett Ryan and Const. Travis Jordan were killed in the line of duty on March 16 while responding to a domestic violence call at Baywood Apartments near 114 Avenue and 132 Street, near Westmount Mall.
After meeting the mother, 55, outside, the two officers went up to the suite where she lived with a 73-year-old man and their 16-year-old son.
As soon as they arrived at the suite at 12:47 a.m., both officers were shot multiple times by the 16-year-old and were “immediately incapacitated,” EPS said.
Police said neither officer had time to draw and fire their own guns and they never made it inside the apartment.
A struggle reportedly ensued between the mother and son over the gun, and the suspect shot his mom before turning the weapon on himself, taking his own life, police said.
In an update on Wednesday, the Edmonton Police Service said its Firearms Investigations Unit (FIU) investigated the origins of the firearm used in the March 16 officer deaths.
Detectives determined a bullet cartridge casing recovered from the scene of a March 12 shooting at a nearby restaurant matched the firearm recovered at the March 16 apartment shooting. Investigators have since confirmed that the suspect in both shootings was the same.
Police say an investigation has led them to believe that Dennis Okeymow, 19, trafficked the unrestricted semi-automatic 22-calibre gun used in both shootings directly to the 16-year-old male shooter prior to March 12.
On Nov. 23, police conducted search warrants on Okeymow’s residence, vehicles and cell phone. He was arrested and police said they seized a stolen loaded handgun, ammunition, illegal drugs, $10,000 in cash and other items.
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Okeymow has been charged with three counts of manslaughter and three counts of criminal negligence causing death in relation to the deaths of Const. Ryan, Const. Jordan and the 16-year-old male shooter, police said Wednesday.
Stewart said, in context of the manslaughter charges, suspects illegally selling firearms are aware of the potential harm that weapon can be used for.
“It’s not just ‘ought to have known.’ There’s lots of other factors … knowledge of youth around that time … other factors that definitely will add to our evidentiary chain.”
Okeymow was also charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in relation to the man injured in the restaurant shooting on March 12 and the youth’s mother, who was injured during the March 16 shooting.
And, he’s charged with firearms trafficking, unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, and “other drug-trafficking-related charges,” EPS said in a news release.
Police said Wednesday that they believe Okeymow and the 16-year-old youth “knew each other prior” to the sale of the firearm.
Stewart said this particular gun did not end up in the youth’s possession due to “straw purchasing.”
“This firearm was lawfully purchased at some point, before it started making its circulation,” Stewart said, adding it was legally purchased initially from a lawful firearms retailer in Edmonton.
EPS said Okeymow was not known to police before this case. There’s no information to suggest he’s involved in a gang or any other firearm trafficking, but police said they believe he was involved in drug trafficking.
“In my 20 years in this career, this is the most complex and tragic file I have worked on,” Stewart said.
“It’s heartbreaking that the trafficking of a firearm has led to multiple deaths and life-altering injuries. The trauma suffered by the impacted families as a result of this one simple transaction is unthinkable.”
According to police, the man injured in the March 12 shooting is still physically recovering and some injuries will be “life-long.” Psychologically, he’s still suffering, police said.
The mother of the youth who shot the officers has mostly healed physically, police said, although she’ll have some lasting injuries. Psychologically, she’s in pain, battling challenges, which has had an affect on the entire family, police said.
Jordan, 35, had been with EPS for eight-and-a-half years, and Ryan, 30, had been with the service for five-and-a-half years.
Acting Deputy Chief Nicole Chapdelaine said 2023 has been a painful year for the constables’ families and the larger police family.
“One of the most difficult things an officer may experience during their career is the death of a colleague,” she said.
“The deaths of fellow members have far-reaching impacts that will take time to heal … The path is not linear and is different for everyone.”
Chapdelaine said the EPS remains in regular contact with the Ryan and Jordan families and “will continue to actively support them through this unthinkable tragedy.”