“They’re like, ‘What? In dad’s name? Just for Dad? Does that mean it’s ours’?'” Claire Woodall said with a laugh. “And I went, ‘No, it’s not yours, everyone can enjoy it.'”
The official park designation is the latest show of support for the fallen officer’s 33-year-old widow, Claire, and her two sons, Gabe, 7, and Callen, 5.
Over the last year, the family has been contacted countless times by people and organizations wanting to recognize the officer’s sacrifice.
Claire thought she’d always move back to be with family in the U.K. if anything every happened to her husband. But after thousands of people wore blue ribbons and lined the streets for his funeral, she said she realized she couldn’t leave Edmonton.
“I could never leave this city. It might change when the boys are older but I’ve had so much love,” she said. “The city has just supported me in such a way that I really cannot put it into words.
“So it was clear, instantly, I don’t need to go anywhere. I’m home.”
On June 8, 2015, EPS Const. Daniel Woodall was shot and killed while executing an arrest warrant at the home of Norman Raddatz, the subject of a lengthy hate crimes investigation. Raddatz, who’s believed to have fired dozens of shots at the approaching police officers, was known to police, though he did not have an extensive police record. Sgt. Jason Harley, a 38-year-old southwest division patrol member, was shot in the lower back.
Woodall migrated to Canada from Great Britain to join the Edmonton Police Service. He worked with the police force in Manchester, England before joining the Edmonton police in 2007.
After a year of reflection and grief, Claire Woodall said she doesn’t harbour any hatred towards her husband’s killer.
“I can’t be angry towards him. He did something that was terrible. He’s no longer here so he paid his price for it.”
Watch below: Claire Woodall explains her husband’s death to her young sons
Her oldest son is angry and misses his father. Five-year-old Callen is trying to understand it all.
Both Gabe and Callen are seeing a counsellor to work through their father’s passing. Claire added the sudden loss is a lot for two little boys to wrap their heads around.
“They often say that they want to visit in heaven,” she laughed, adding that she tells the boys if they left, they wouldn’t be able to come back and she wants them here.
Woodall said she makes a point of keeping her husband’s memory alive. If Star Wars or Game of Thrones are on TV, or one of their dad’s favourite songs comes on the radio, she draws attention to it.
“Honestly, sometimes it’s just to keep them quiet,” Claire Woodall said with a smile. “‘I think dad would be really upset if you weren’t behaving right now, don’t you think’?”
While the boys are adjusting, she admits her husband’s death has only hit her in the last couple of months.
“I’ll be honest, I think I’ve only just started to process it because I had this kind of persona of being a strong, inspirational person and I found it quite hard to – not let go of that but – just realize that I’m human,” Claire Woodall said. “It took me a long time to just get in touch with myself because I’m a single mom now.”
Watch below: Claire Woodall speaks about park being named after her late husband, EPS Const. Daniel Woodall
The support has continued, she said.
Some Edmonton officers recently ran a marathon in New York in Woodall’s honour. A brewery crafted a memorial beer in his memory.
People have also donated enough money so the family no longer has to live paycheque to paycheque, said Woodall. She has been able to quit her job as a receptionist at a local radio station. She and the boys have moved into a bigger house in a new neighbourhood. And the children will have their university paid for.
A few days ago, Woodall said, a woman recognized her in a restaurant. The woman told her, “I’ve been thinking about you. Please know that you’re in our thoughts.”
“It’s still in their minds,” said Woodall, her eyes welling with tears.
With files from The Canadian Press