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‘Profound sadness’: South Simcoe Police identify 2 officers killed in Innisfil shooting

Click to play video: '2 police officers killed in Innisfil, Ont. identified'
2 police officers killed in Innisfil, Ont. identified
WATCH ABOVE: The two South Simcoe Police officers killed on Tuesday evening have been identified as the force mourns their loss. Tracy Tong has more – Oct 12, 2022

South Simcoe Police have identified two officers killed in a shooting in Innisfil, Ont., Tuesday evening.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, South Simcoe Police Acting Chief John Van Dyke identified the deceased as Const. Devon Northrup and Const. Morgan Russell.

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“Words cannot describe our grief,” he said.

The force said officers received reports of a disturbance at a home in the 25th Sideroad and 9th Line area at around 7:55 p.m. on Tuesday.

Click to play video: '2 police officers killed, suspect dead after Innisfil, Ont. shooting'
2 police officers killed, suspect dead after Innisfil, Ont. shooting

The province’s police watchdog — the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) — said there was an “exchange of gunfire” between a man and officer inside a home.

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The force said both officers were taken to a local hospital. One officer died a short time later.

In an update on Wednesday, the force confirmed the second officer, who had been airlifted to a Toronto trauma center in critical condition, had died.

The suspect, a 23-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene after a confrontation with police, the SIU said.

Sources tell Global News the deceased is 23-year-old Chris Doncaster.

Van Dyke said Northrup was 33 years old and was a member of the service for six years. He was assigned to the Community Mobilization and Engagement Unit.

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South Simcoe Police said Devon Northrup was shot and killed in a shooting in Innisfil, Ont. South Simcoe Police / Handout

“Constable Northrup is survived by his partner, his parents and his many close friends,” Van Dyke said. “He also served as a member of our mental health Crisis Outreach and Support Team and the Emergency Response Unit.”

Van Dyke said Russell was 54-years-old and was a 33-year member of the service.

South Simcoe Police said Morgan Russell was shot and killed in a shooting in Innisfil, Ont. South Simcoe Police / Handout

“He was assigned to uniform patrol and was a trained crisis negotiator. He is survived by his wife and two teenage children,” Van Dyke said.

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Van Dyke said the loss is “personal” for him.

“I went to police college with Morgan 33 years ago,” he said.

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Van Dyke said this is a “heartbreaking time for our police service, the families impacted, our emergency services personnel and our communities.”

He said the force’s “immediate focus” is to “support our members and their grieving families.”

Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin said South Simcoe Police are “beloved” in the community.

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“(Officers are) so well respected by everyone and well loved,” she told reporters. “And we’re just broken.”

“Our hearts are broken for the families and for our police colleagues and it’s a dark day and it’s going to take us a long time to process this but we will be there to support our South Simcoe Police colleagues and we will be there to support the impacted families and friends,” she said.

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.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford called the incident “heartbreaking.”

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“I’ve been on the phone all night all this morning,” he said. “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. They’re such a close-knit community and just especially to South Simcoe Police Services.”

Ford said he spoke with the chief and the president of the association, adding that he will be heading to Innisfil at 5 p.m. to “show them our support.”

“Another senseless tragedy, absolutely senseless,” he said.

In a tweet, the Town of Innisfil said it is a “devastating day for Innisfil.”

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“We’re heartbroken at the loss of our officers from the South Simcoe Police Service.”

“On behalf of all members of council and staff from Innisfil and @TownofBWG, we extend our thoughts to the officers’ families and all members of our emergency services teams,” the tweet read.

In a post on Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “sending his deepest condolences” to the force “as they mourn the passing of two officers who were killed in the line of duty.”

“My thoughts are also with the loved ones of these officers and the entire Innisfil community,” he wrote.

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Barrie Police said the force’s “hearts are heavy today as we mourn two South Simcoe Police officers killed in the line of duty last night.”

“Our thoughts are with the officers’ families, friends and colleagues on this tragic day,” a tweet read. “#HeroesinLife.”

The commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Thomas Carrique offered his condolences as well, saying on Twitter that 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.”

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A candlelight vigil is being held Wednesday evening at the Innisfil Community Church to “honour and grieve the loss” of the two officers.

The vigil is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

A book of condolences has also been set up at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Leisure Centre.

The town said in a tweet that the book will be available over the “next several days” across from the customer service desk.

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-with files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues and Catherine McDonald.

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