A vigil was held by Ridge Meadows RCMP, and community members, to honour the officer that was killed in the line of duty on Friday.
Const. Rick O’Brien was killed, two more officers were wounded and a suspect was shot in Coquitlam on Friday, as officers executed a search warrant in a private home.
The vigil is just outside the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment in Maple Ridge.
Community members were seen attending the vigil, laying flowers and sharing embraces.
“It is the ultimate sacrifice for our community … (It is) not something you want to see,” Paige Paddington, a Maple Ridge resident. “It was a senseless act. My heart breaks for his family, friends, fellow officers and the community.”
Details surrounding the incident are sparse. Ridge Meadows RCMP officers were searching a home near the intersection of Pinetree Way and Glen Drive before 10 a.m., when an “altercation” began between police and a civilian, according to B.C. RCMP.
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.
“Number one … the constable was from Maple Ridge. I am from Maple Ridge. I am just sad — someone went to work and didn’t come home. He has a wife and kids … why?,” Leigh Quarfordt said through tears.
“These people are here to protect us. I just think it’s time we change the laws so the guys with guns don’t have a chance to take people out. We got to stop this.”
The B.C. RCMP’s deputy commissioner described him as a father and husband who led by example and had a great sense of humour.
“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.”
Two investigations are 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. The suspect remains in hospital.
Witness Carley Hodges said she saw rifles and battering rams, in addition to a wounded officer.
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“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.
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.
— With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey and Julie Nolin