Const. Rick O’Brien loved to laugh. He loved his job, he loved being an RCMP officer, he loved making jokes and he loved his wife and family above all.
O’Brien was laid to rest Wednesday in a ceremony at the Langley Events Centre after he was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Speaking on behalf of O’Brien’s wife, Nicole, Stephanie Porter said the couple was set to take a trip soon, just the two of them.
“And instead, I’m sending you off to a different paradise,” Porter said. “How am I going to live without you?
“My favourite thing was loving you and how you loved me back. I loved loving you and I love our story.”
The couple had six children between them.
O’Brien had wanted to become an RCMP officer to help kids and educate them that police officers are there to help and protect them.
He kept a picture in his work cubby of a drawing he received from a class of children.
“It obviously meant a lot to him,” Cpl. Pete Westra with the Ridge Meadows RCMP said during the service.
“He had such a desire to succeed and he will be remembered for that.”
Westra added that O’Brien’s loss was felt by many. “It was too early and it was senseless.”
Friend and RCMP colleague, Const. Dan Leclair told the crowd that he knew O’Brien when he was still a school teacher and applied to become an RCMP officer.
“I’ve always been proud to tell people my friend is a hero,” Leclair said.
“Rick, it was a privilege and an honour to know you.”
Holding back tears, friend John Brandreth spoke about how much love O’Brien had for his wife, Nicole. They were together for 11 years and Brandreth said the couple were able to pack “a lifetime of love” into that short time.
O’Brien’s sister, Cindy Niezen, brought some brevity to the ceremony by telling everyone “Rick loved to fart.”
She said he would eat certain foods to make the smell more pungent and he would pass gas inside a vehicle and then lock all doors and windows so people couldn’t escape.
Niezen said O’Brien was a jokester growing up, playing pranks on his sisters and he loved to give hugs – a gift he inherited from their mom, she added.
“Rick loved to laugh,” Niezen said. “If Rick loved you, he loved you with his entire being.”
Deputy Comm. of the BC RCMP, Dwayne McDonald, said O’Brien’s death has left a gap that can never be filled.
“We stand together, a sea of red,” he said.
“It will take courage moving forward but we can take some of that courage from Rick because he certainly had enough to go around.”
Led by Cpl. Alex Berube, the funeral service began with the marching on the Guidon, which bears the Corps Operational Honours detailing the many campaigns members of the Mounted Police have fought and died in around the world. It is customary for the Guidon to be carried on during a regimental funeral and placed on the stage.
Draped in a Canadian flag, the casket containing O’Brien’s body was carried to the front of the arena. An RCMP officer walked behind, carrying O’Brien’s stetson.
Members of his family placed white roses on his casket following Marie Hui, who led the singing of O Canada and also sang the song It Is Well with My Soul.
A procession of thousands, led by the E Division Pipes and Drums, marched around the Langley Events Centre and into the facility before the ceremony began.
It included a riderless horse with the boots in the stirrups turned backwards. This symbolizes O’Brien’s last ride as he looks back on the troops one last time.
Four RCMP officers marched beside O’Brien’s casket being carried by a hearse.
O’Brien was fatally shot on Sept. 22 while police were executing a search warrant at a home in Coquitlam in relation to a drug investigation.
The 51-year-old, who was with the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment, left behind a wife and children.
A 25-year-old Coquitlam man has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder with a firearm in connection with O’Brien’s death.
Late Saturday afternoon, homicide investigators announced Nicholas Bellemare has been charged and remains in custody.
Two other officers were injured and the suspect was shot in the incident, police said.
The National Police Federation, which acts as a union for the RCMP, has launched a fundraising campaign for O’Brien’s family.