Colleagues of the Nova Scotia Mountie who was killed in last month’s shooting rampage took part in a poignant ceremony known as a “last patrol” on Friday.
The RCMP released a series of photos showing five officers paying their respects at the roadside bend in Shubenacadie, N.S., where Const. Heidi Stevenson was killed on April 19.
The photos show two Mounties in red serge, two in plain clothes and one in regular uniform – all bowing their heads near a makeshift memorial festooned with flowers, flags and posters.
In the background are more officers and a long line of RCMP cruisers.
Stevenson was among 22 people killed by a gunman who started attacking neighbours and strangers in Portapique, N.S., on the night on April 18.
The 48-year-old constable was among those killed the next day after she rammed her cruiser into the vehicle being driven by the suspect, who was dressed as a Mountie and behind the wheel of a replica RCMP cruiser.
Last weekend, the president of the National Police Federation said Stevenson’s decision to disable the killer’s vehicle likely saved many lives.
“She realized it was the bad guy, and she rammed him,” said Brian Sauve, head of the union that represents 20,000 RCMP members.
After the collision, the shooter managed to get out of his car, kill Stevenson and take her sidearm.
Investigators say the gunman’s vehicle was virtually identical to the marked cruisers used by the RCMP, which is partly why it took Mounties 13 hours to track him down.
As well, police have said some of the murders occurred because the gunman used the vehicle, which was equipped with an emergency light bar, to pull over victims before shooting them.
He was killed by an RCMP officer who spotted him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., at 11:26 a.m. on April 19. By that time, the suspect was driving a stolen car – the second of two he had taken from people he had killed.
Described as a caring wife and mother who was well known in the Halifax area, Stevenson leaves behind her husband Dean and children, Connor and Ava.
Among her roles with the force , Stevenson served in community policing, communications, drug recognition and represented the RCMP as part of the Musical Ride.
She would normally receive a regimental funeral, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made that impossible.
Several people responded to the RCMP’s social media post with messages of support on Friday.
“Our gratitude for her service and sacrifice,” said one response on Twitter. “May the love of a nation carry this family and all others in their time of grief, and support to every first responder.”
Another post was more blunt: “Absolutely heartbreaking.”
Meanwhile, an online campaign is gathering signatures in a bid to change the name of a Nova Scotia high school to honour Stevenson.
The petition, which had more than 40,000 signatures as of Friday evening, calls for Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth to be renamed Constable Heidi Stevenson High School.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2020.