The lives and service of constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan were honoured at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday afternoon, 11 days after the two police officers were killed in the line of duty.
The sombre ceremony frequently evoked emotional responses among the crowd, especially when Ryan’s wife Ashley read a eulogy for her late husband and while a chaplain read a speech written by Jordan’s wife.
Annie Jordan described her husband Travis as “the most generous, selfless and loving person I know.”
“It’s been the biggest honour being your wife,” she wrote.
“We didn’t have one hard day together in 11 years.”
She also acknowledged the closely-knit bond her husband had with his colleagues.
“Your brothers and sisters in blue meant the world to you.”
Ashley Ryan had tears in her eyes as she spoke about her husband, whom she described as “a generous soul and an inviting personality.”
“My sweet husband, we thought we had eternity ahead of us,” she said, adding that she will never forget how excited he was to learn he was going to become a father even if he would never get to meet his child.
“(You) will forever be their angel,” she said, speaking of their unborn child.
The funeral at the Edmonton Oilers’ hockey arena took place Monday afternoon. In addition to the officers’ loved ones, thousands of police officers and other first responders were among the crowd inside the building.
READ MORE: Father-to-be and ‘snow angel’: Slain Edmonton officers Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan remembered
Jordan, 35, and Ryan, 30, were responding to a call at an apartment complex in Edmonton’s Inglewood neighbourhood on March 16 when they were shot and killed by a 16-year-old male.
Investigators believe the officers were shot before they had a chance to even pull out their guns. The suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while his mother remains in hospital after sustaining injuries when she tried to wrestle the gun away from her son.
“The Edmonton Police Service has been marked by a really unthinkable and horrific tragedy as two of our members have died in the line of duty,” EPS Chief Dale McFee said on the day of the shootings.
Last week, police announced they believe the same gun was used to in a shooting that critically wounded a man at a Pizza Hut — near where Jordan and Ryan were shot — just days before the officers were killed.
READ MORE: Edmonton police say gun used to kill 2 officers linked to Pizza Hut shooting days earlier
Police also revealed officers had been called to the suspect’s home in the fall for a non-criminal call and that the teen was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and taken to hospital for an assessment.
On Sunday afternoon, the Ryan and Jordan families released statements thanking the community for its support while they grieve.
“Grieving the sudden loss of a beloved member of our family is ineffable,” the Ryan family said. “He was a multi-talented individual, dedicated friend, respected colleague, active community member and volunteer and compassionate first responder whose calling was to help those in need.”
Before becoming an EPS officer five-and-a-half years ago, Ryan had been a paramedic. The officer who lived in Spruce Grove is also remembered for his love of sports and the time he committed to being a referee in the hockey community.
Jordan grew up in Nova Scotia but had been with the EPS for eight-and-a-half years.
“Alberta may have called to his heart, but the East Coast ran through his veins. His family roots in Nova Scotia have deep ties to the province filled with friends, family and loved ones,” the Jordan family wrote.
“He was passionate about giving back to his communities, and his willingness to help was limitless — all the makings of a great police officer and an even greater human being.”
At Monday’s funeral, Jordan’s friend Brodie Sampson detailed how the officer and his wife left Nova Scotia for Edmonton so he could fulfil his dream of having a career in law enforcement.
Sampson noted Jordan had a “strong moral compass” and described him as being “the epitome of integrity,” adding that he developed a reputation for being kind towards fellow citizens while he worked.
While Monday’s funeral was marked by sadness and quiet reflection, there were moments where memories of Jordan and Ryan were shared that drew laughter from the crowd.
Sgt. Chris Gallagher, who worked with Jordan, joked that the young officer “didn’t get off to a great start here” before regaling the crowd with a story about the police officer forgetting his boots and name tag on “photo day” one year.
Joking aside, he described Jordan as “a leader right from the start.”
“His colleagues knew that they could always count on him,” Gallagher said.
A number of dignitaries, including Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, Alberta Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis, Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino were also in attendance.
Lt.-Gov. Salma Lakhani was also in attendance and spoke at the funeral. She said “the best police officers bring tremendous courage,” among other qualities, to the job with them.
“Constables Jordan and Ryan lived up to that high standard each and every day,” she said.
“They cared deeply about this community and they served with intelligence, integrity and honour.”
Jordan and Ryan’s caskets were draped in Canadian flags as they were carried past attendees to the main stage.
While most of the funeral’s speakers dedicated their words to the memory of the two officers who died, they also addressed the law enforcement community at large and acknowledged the inherent risks taken by those in the profession.
EPS Chaplain Roy Langer spoke about how most Edmontonians were sleeping in a safe, warm bed on the night Jordan and Ryan were killed.
“It was just an ordinary night… (a) squad car came up a quiet street with two officers,” he said. “They never thought twice about that night as they prepared to go on duty.
“They put on their gear, their vests and were ready to serve because they loved their city, they loved the EPS, they loved their families.”
During his speech, Sampson acknowledged the “sea of blue” gathered in front of him.
“Your work has never been easy, and on a day like today, that rings truer than ever,” he said.
Curtis Hoople, the president of the Edmonton Police Association, said the deaths of Jordan and Ryan are “hard to accept” and acknowledged the pain the officers’ loved ones are grappling with.
“The entire police family here today and worldwide mourns with you, and is deeply sorry for your loss,” he said, calling Jordan and Ryan “damn great cops.”
READ MORE: Edmonton criminologist, EPS veteran, hopes for shift in discourse around police: ‘We are human’
Garett Ryan spoke of his brother Brett’s love of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and country music as well as his distinct laugh, adding that while Brett was the youngest of three boys, his brothers looked up to him.
“I wish I only had five more minutes to spend with him,” he said. “… Our hero… You’ve enriched our lives.
“Your last breath on Earth became your first breath in heaven… Go knowing that your work is complete and you’ve made this world a better place.”
The funeral was closed to the public but Edmontonians were invited to watch the funeral on a big screen set up outside the arena.
Edmontonians also took the opportunity to honour the lives of constables Jordan and Ryan and give thanks for their service ahead of the regimental funeral.
As Jordan and Ryan’s bodies were being transported from the Alberta legislature to Rogers Place, where the funeral is being held, Edmontonians lined the procession route to pay their respects and say their goodbyes.
Hundreds of police officers as well as paramedics and other first responders also took part in the two-and-a-half-kilometre-long procession.
Uniformed officers marched alongside two hearses carrying Jordan and Ryan’s bodies as drums and bagpipes were played.
A formation of hundreds of officers in blue uniforms walked in unison as part of the procession, creating a visually stirring display of unity and solidarity.
Among those taking part in the procession were police officers from across the country and even some from New York.
McFee said he and all members of the police service were grateful for the support they have received from members of other police departments and from Edmontonians, who have paid tribute to Jordan, Ryan and police officers in general by putting up blue ribbons throughout the city, lining procession routes and finding other ways to pay their respects.
“We cannot shy away from the magnitude of what happened or its impact,” McFee said, adding that Jordan and Ryan “ventured dutifully” into a dangerous situation and “made the ultimate sacrifice.”
“(They gave) their lives to protect their community.”
READ MORE: Edmontonians show support as bodies of slain police officers transported to funeral home
McFee added that he was proud of how officers have been able to carry out their work since having to mourn the loss of their colleagues and after having been reminded of how hazardous their profession can be.
“Even in our grief, we show up — all of us, every day,” he said. “I am so proud of every member of our service.”
Towards the end of Monday’s ceremony, the flags draped over Jordan and Ryan’s casket were folded together by police officers and given to McFee who then handed them to Jordan and Ryan’s widows and consoled the women.
He described the two police officers as “incredible young men.”
“Brett was a first responder to the bone,” McFee said. “Travis was someone who took initiative… He was a remarkable human who allowed his humanity to shine.
“They both honoured their uniform… (with) exemplary service.”
–With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Adam Toy and Karen Bartko