The force said officers had responded to a report of a disturbance at a home in the area of 25th Sideroad and 9th Line at around 7:55 p.m.
The Special Investigations Unit, known as Ontario’s police watchdog, said there was “an exchange of gunfire between the man and officers” inside of the residence.
Both officers were rushed to a local hospital, police said. One of them died a short time later. The second officer was then airlifted to a Toronto trauma centre in critical condition.
In an update Wednesday morning, police said the second officer had also died from his injuries.
South Simcoe Police released the names of the officers identifying them as Constable Devon Northrup and Constable Morgan Russell.
“Words cannot describe our grief,” South Simcoe Police acting police chief John Van Dyke said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a heartbreaking time for our police service,” Van Dyke continued. “The families impacted, our emergency services personnel and our communities.”
“This is personal for me. I went to police college with Morgan 33 years ago,” Van Dyke said, fighting back tears.
Const. Russell was 54-years-old and was a 33-year member of the service. Const. Northrup was 33-years-old and was a six-year member of the service.
Daniel Davidson, the town’s deputy mayor, told reporters that Russell was planning to retire once his children had finished university.
“They were almost there, almost finished university,” he said. “So he was up for retirement.” Davidson said he had met Northrup a few times at events.
“He was there for mental health, to help people in difficult times,” he said, adding that there “couldn’t have been a better person there.”
Davidson said the town is “in shock.”
“It’s unheard of, it’s never happened here,” he said.
He said the incident occurred in a “good neighbourhood.”
“Everyone knows everyone in that neighbourhood, it’s a small town — it’s a small town approach,” he said.
The suspect, a 23-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the home after a confrontation with police, the SIU said.
Kristy Denette, a spokesperson for the SIU, said they would not release the man’s name as the family has not consented its release.
However, sources tell Global News the deceased is 23-year-old Chris Doncaster.
Doncaster’s grandmother posted a photograph of a certificate of enrollment for “Private Christopher Joseph Doncaster” dated May 14, 2020, on her Facebook account.
A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence told Global News someone by the name of Christopher Joseph Doncaster “was a CAF member from May to December 2020.”
“He was a Private with no deployment history and who did not complete basic training,” the spokesperson said.
Denette said family members were inside the home and they called 911 prior to the shooting.
She later confirmed that the gun used in the shooting by the suspect was an SKS semi-automatic rifle.
When asked by reporters if the suspect took his own life, Denette said it’s under investigation.
An autopsy has been scheduled for the man on Friday to piece together what happened, she said.
The SIU is an independent agency that investigates the conduct of Ontario police officers in serious incidents, including those resulting in death.
Earlier on Wednesday, Toronto Police assisted South Simcoe Police with escorting the second fallen officer from St. Mike’s hospital to the Office of the Chief Coroner.
Rolling closures began at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday from downtown towards the northbound DVP and then westbound across Highway 401 to Keele Street.
As well, York Regional Police are conducting an investigation into details surrounding the shooting of the officers.
A large police presence was seen on Somers Boulevard, near 25th Side Road and Happy Vale Drive.
Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford reacted to the deaths of the officers saying he is “heartbroken.”
“I’ve been on the phone all night all this morning,” Ford told reporters. “First of all I want to send our condolences and our prayers and thoughts out to the family and friends and to all the police officers out there.”
“Another senseless tragedy, absolutely senseless,” Ford said.
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique also offered his condolences.
“The thoughts of OPP members are with the families of the two South Simcoe Police Service officers who died after an incident last night and with all members of the South Simcoe Police Service #HeroesInLife.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his “thoughts are also with the loved ones of these officers and the entire Innisfil community.”
The officers’ deaths by gunfire come as Toronto police Constable Andrew Hong was shot and killed at a Tim Hortons in Mississauga during a coffee break on Sept. 12.
Two days later on Sept. 14, York Regional Police Constable Travis Gillespie, was also killed in a crash involving an impaired driver when he was on his way to work.
— With files from Global News’ Tracy Tong, Hannah Jackson, Isaac Callan and Catherine McDonald