Death of B.C. Mountie casts pall over law enforcement across Canada

Const. Rick (Fredrick) O’Brien is pictured.

The death of a Metro Vancouver RCMP officer who was shot dead while executing a search warrant is reverberating with law enforcement officials across the country.

The National Police Federation, which represents RCMP members across Canada, says it has launched a GoFundMe fundraising campaign for the family of Const. Rick O’Brien, 51, who died yesterday in Coquitlam, B.C.

Kevin Halwa, chair of the federation’s Benevolent Foundation, says calling the mood in the law enforcement community sombre “would be an understatement.”

Halwa says the tragedy is a powerful reminder of the risks police officers take on in their daily work once they “step up to serve.”

Police say two other officers were injured in the incident, and a suspect in his 20s was also shot and is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

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A police road block is seen on Glen Drive after a shooting involving RCMP officers in Coquitlam B.C. on Friday, September 22, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

Condolences from a number of law enforcement officials and agencies have poured in on social media, including federal Justice Minister Arif Virani, the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police and Alberta Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis.

The GoFundMe campaign for O’Brien’s family has raised $41,170 since launch, with a goal of ultimately raising $50,000.

Halwa says the funds cannot come close to replacing O’Brien’s loss, but the Benevolent Foundation is hoping to take on as much of the financial pressures facing the family in the wake of his death.

“If we can take even just an ounce of pressure off of that family and Rick’s loved ones, then that’s why we’re here,” Halwa said.

O’Brien, who had a wife and children, worked with at-risk youth before joining the RCMP and spent his entire policing career at the Ridge Meadows detachment.

He was decorated for bravery in the rescue of victims during a home invasion within months of joining the RCMP in 2016.

Halwa says he hopes the tragedy reminds the public of the individuals behind the badge.

“You know, they are the mothers and fathers, the soccer coaches, and they’re doing their damn best to do what they can to make the world better,” he said. “Their hearts are all in the right place to make the world better.”

O’Brien’s death in Coquitlam comes less than a year after another officer, Const. Shaelyn Yang, was stabbed to death while accompanying a Burnaby, B.C., city worker to a campsite used by homeless residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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