It’s been 15 years since four RCMP officers — known as the Fallen Four — were shot and killed near Mayerthorpe, Alta.
People gathered for a memorial service at the Fallen Four Memorial Park in Mayerthorpe Tuesday evening, where family, friends and members of the public took time to remember Constables Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann.
“Even though it was 15 years ago, it still gets very emotional,” Jurgen Preugschas, a board member with the Fallen Four Memorial Society, said at the memorial ceremony. “Because you remember exactly what you were doing the day it happened. And then, of course, I knew all the guys.
“Before I even knew who… [was shot], you were worried. ‘Who was it?’ And then when you find out, it’s tough… [tonight] brings all that back to you.”
On March 3, 2005, the officers were shot and killed by James Roszko, while investigating a marijuana grow operation and chop shop at a property owned by Roszko. Roszko later shot himself after being wounded by an officer.
Tuesday’s memorial included speeches and a candlelight vigil.
Gerald Soroka, the MP for Yellowhead, said Tuesday night’s ceremony brought back a lot of memories from 15 years ago.
“It’s something that happened in your own home community, where you’re going, ‘There’s no way that four RCMP members could have been killed in the line of duty…’ by someone who grew up in the area, was known in the area,” he said.
“It’s such a shock still.”
Alberta RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine had been a member for about six years when the shooting happened. She worked traffic services with Schiemann and said the tragedy hit her especially hard.
“I’ve been a member for over 21 years and I’ll never forget the day I found out when we lost our four members,” she told 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen Tuesday morning.
“This tragedy resulted in people losing not just our police officers and co-workers, but sons and partners and spouses and loved ones.”
Fontaine said a lot was learned from the deadly shooting and while she couldn’t speak to the specifics, added that changes have been made within the RCMP in hopes of preventing another tragedy like this from ever happening again.
“I can’t talk in immense detail but from my perspective, we created a behavioural sciences unit that specialized in threat assessment that continues to this day that’s available to deal with threats to police.”
Fontaine said it’s important to talk about the loss in order to keep the memories of the men alive.
“I don’t want those members lives to every be lost in vain and not be remembered. We need to honour the memory of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to their community,” she said.
“With 15 years having passed, a lot of our own RCMP officers were quite young when this happened and don’t have an actual memory of this. So the only way to honour those memories and share that with these newer police officers is to have these memorials and continue to gather and recognize the sacrifices that were made.”
READ MORE: Mayerthorpe marks sombre anniversary
In the years since the tragedy, the constables have been honoured in a number of ways. The Fallen Four Memorial Park was built in Mayerthorpe to commemorate the sacrifice the officers made, as well as be a positive place for people to pay tribute to Gordon, Johnston, Myrol and Schiemann.
About 7,000 people visit the park every year.
–With files from Global News’ Sarah Komadina and Phil Heidenreich
View photos of Tuesday’s memorial in the gallery below: