Ridge Meadows RCMP were searching a home near the intersection of Pinetree Way and Glen Drive in the Metro Vancouver city before 10 a.m., when an “altercation” began between police and a civilian, according to B.C. RCMP.
In the course of that altercation, RCMP said multiple officers were injured and the suspect was shot.
Const. Rick O’Brien, 51, was killed.
“This is an extremely difficult and tragic day for our members at Ridge Meadows detachment, Coquitlam RCMP where this incident occurred, and the greater RCMP and RCMP family,” said B.C. RCMP Deputy Comm. Dwayne McDonald.
“We all join in expressing our heartfelt condolences to Const. O’Brien’s family, who I had the opportunity to visit with earlier today.”
According to McDonald, Ottawa-born O’Brien had just celebrated his seventh year of service with the Ridge Meadows RCMP. Shortly after joining in 2016, he was commended for bravery for his involvement in the rescue of several victims of a home invasion and the arrest of the suspects.
The deputy commissioner described him as a father and husband who led by example and had a great sense of humour.
“He was well-respected by his peers and he was loved by his community,” McDonald said.
“Our RCMP family is once again gutted.”
Two investigations are now underway in relation to the tragedy.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is investigating the police injuries, while the watchdog Independent Investigations Office of B.C. investigates the civilian casualty, described as serious but non-life-threatening.
One injured Mountie remains in the hospital and the second has returned home. Both are expected to make full recoveries.
“It’s a horrible day. It’s incredibly tragic, and our community — our hearts go out to the family, the friends, the co-workers, the colleagues of an officer who went to work this morning, hoping to help for the whole day, and whose life and career were cut short,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said Friday.
“We lament tremendously, the senseless loss that every member of every police force must feel on a day like today.”
Police have closed Glen Drive between Pinetree Way and High Street.
As first responders, a tactical team and canine unit, flooded the intersection Friday morning, staff at nearby businesses were told to stay indoors and not let anyone in.
Witness Carley Hodges said she saw rifles and battering rams, in addition to a wounded officer.
“When we arrived we just saw a bunch of cop cars pulling up, then we noticed an officer limping. He was bleeding from a wound in his leg. He had a tourniquet on,” she told Global News.
“Someone was taken away in an ambulance. They were doing chest compressions. Someone in handcuffs in his underwear was taken away and that’s really all we saw.”
McDonald confirmed the suspect, a man in his 20s, was known to police. While he wouldn’t disclose the number of officers who attended the home search, he said it was more than three.
The execution of the search warrant was related to a “long-term investigation,” he added, declining to provide further details.
The Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment closed its front counter on Friday afternoon and flags were dropped to half-staff as an officer saluted. Civilians were seen outside the detachment hugging each other and wiping away tears.
A funeral procession for O’Brien left Coquitlam Friday evening, heading east through Maple Ridge and ending in Abbotsford.
Ridge Meadows RCMP Supt. Wendy Mehat said speaking about O’Brien’s “senseless and heartbreaking” death in Friday’s press conference was “the most difficult moment” of her career.
“I cannot speak to the details of what unfolded today but I can share that the loss of Rick will be felt deeply by his family, his colleagues and the community of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam and across the country,” she said.
“Rick’s contribution to his work and his fellow team members at this detachment was immeasurable. Rick loved visiting schools and helping students, doing presentations, supporting our detachment food drives and sport events.”
The National Police Federation, which acts as union for the RCMP, has launched a fundraising campaign for O’Brien’s family.
O’Brien’s death comes near the one-year anniversary of the on-duty death of another B.C. Mountie — Const. Shaelyn Yang, who was fatally stabbed in a Burnaby, B.C. park on Oct. 18, 2022.
“It is incredibly traumatizing to the RCMP,” McDonald said. “Within the last 12 months, I believe we’ve hit the tragic record of the most deaths of police officers in this country in history.”
It also comes less than two weeks after RCMP hosted the annual National Memorial Service for fallen members on Sept. 11 in Regina, with hundreds of officers attending.
Choking back tears during a separate press conference, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of Friday’s casualties.
“Every day in our province, men and women put on a uniform to go out and keep our communities and our people safe. Sometimes they don’t return home. Today is one of those days,” Farnworth said.
“It is a reminder to all of us of the sacrifice that they’re prepared to give in the course of doing that duty and just how incredibly exceptional all of them are.”
BC United MLA Elenore Sturko, a former RCMP officer, also expressed her deep condolences.
“There are loved ones and family members and co-workers who, tonight, will be missing their loved one who has paid the ultimate sacrifice to serve the community,” she told Global News.
“We also know that we have another officer who has been injured and we pray for them as well. It’s not an easy thing for a community.”
Tributes poured in from across Canada on X, formerly known as Twitter, for the slain and injured officers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent his condolences to O’Brien’s family, and wished the injured officers a speedy recovery.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre did the same, stating “such tragedies are becoming all too familiar across Canada.”
“We must do more to bring home safe streets for Canadians and those who protect us every day.”
Ottawa Police said the incident “leaves us all with heavy hearts.”
“Please keep their sworn and civilian members in your thoughts as they grieve and continue to serve,” the service wrote.
“Please know you are not alone during this difficult time. We offer our support,” added the Winnipeg Police.
In an interview, retired RCMP officer John Buis — who survived a near-fatal shooting during his career — said news of Friday’s casualties hit hard.
“It really impacts me because of the people that I’ve known who’ve been killed in the line of duty, and others who have been impacted by these kinds of events, who may not have been hurt in the incident,” he said.
“I know that their co-workers will do a good job and will continue to work and serve, but it’s just one of those gut-wrenching incidents throughout your service that do occur, that give you a moment to stop and pause.”
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