A Toronto police officer with 31 years on the job has been killed after being struck by a vehicle during an incident at city hall’s underground garage early Friday and a 31-year-old suspect has been charged with first-degree murder.
“It is with profound sadness that I confirm the death of Const. Jeffrey Northrup of 52 Division,” interim Toronto Police Chief James Ramer told reporters during an update Friday morning.
Ramer said Northrup died after he and his partner responded to a priority call at the parking lot, near Queen Street West and Bay Street, just after midnight. It was initially classified as a robbery call but was upgraded to a stabbing.
“We believe this was an intentional, deliberate attack,” he said.
The Toronto Police Service didn’t release any information about the incident at the time aside from a brief update on Twitter saying there was a “police investigation” near Bay Street and Queen Street West. Ramer and deputy chief Peter Yuen visited the scene hours after the initial call, but they initially declined to comment.
Ramer said Northrup’s partner was also taken to a hospital where she was treated and released with minor injuries.
“This event will have a profound impact on our service, our city, and all the members of the policing community,” Ramer continued.
“He died doing something that he loved. He loved his job … despite the dangers that we occasionally face, he continued to do that job to the best of his ability. Despite 31 years on the job, he was eager to do that.”
Ramer said the suspect was initially outside of the vehicle when the officers approached him, but didn’t elaborate how the rest of the incident unfolded. It was also reported there were other occupants in the vehicle as well.
Northrup and his partner were in plainclothes at the time but were wearing identification on chains around their necks. They had been working in the downtown core as part of the July 1 Canada Day events.
In an update released by investigators Friday afternoon, they said Umar Zameer was charged with a count of first-degree murder. The accused appeared at a Toronto court earlier in the day and was remanded into custody until July 23. Officers also said a publication ban was also put in place during Friday’s hearing.
First-degree murder charges are typically laid if the alleged offence was planned and deliberate, but if the person who died was an on-duty police or peace officer a first-degree murder charge is laid.
The update also asked anyone who had a vehicle parked in the garage to check dash-cams and if anything was recorded to contact investigators at 416-808-7400.
Northrup is survived by his wife, three children and his mother. The Toronto Police Association said it’s attending to Northrup’s wife and children and asked that the public respect their privacy.
Toronto Mayor John Tory was also at the news conference Friday morning and said the hardest part of his job is when tragedy strikes the city.
“Nothing can prepare any of us, the people in the city of Toronto, the rest of the members of the police service, for news like this,” he said.
“I begin, on behalf of the three million people who our police officers serve, by extending to the family of officer Northrup our deepest condolences.
“That’s to his wife, and to his children, and to his mother, and all the member of his family and his friends.”
On the 52 Division Twitter account, a short message was posted on Friday.
“It is with profound sadness that we have lost a member of our family,” the tweet said.
“You will be missed brother.”
After the news became public Friday morning, condolences came pouring in from politicians, other police services including Halton, Niagara, Kingston and many others along with community members.
“I’m terribly saddened to hear the tragic news of Const. Jeff Northrup who was killed in the line of duty,” Premier Doug Ford tweeted.
“My deepest condolences to his wife, three kids and the entire Toronto Police Service. We are with you mourning this devastating loss.”
Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah offered his condolences on behalf of himself and the service.
“He was a policing professional, dedicated to keeping his community safe,” he tweeted.
“He was a hero in life, not in death.”
—With files from The Canadian Press