Hundreds of officers from across the province have gathered at a funeral for an Ontario Provincial Police officer who was shot in an ambush last week in a county on the Niagara Peninsula.
Const. Grzegorz (Greg) Pierzchala, 28, was attacked as he responded to a call for a vehicle in a ditch west of Hagersville, Ont., police have said. Two people have been charged with first-degree murder.
Ontario’s premier and the lieutenant-governor were among those who joined Pierzchala’s family for the funeral held at the Sadlon Arena in the officer’s hometown of Barrie, Ont., as rain poured outside on a gloomy Wednesday morning.
“This brave young man died just two days after Christmas,” Premier Doug Ford said. “It’s yet another difficult reminder that the job of a police officer is one of total commitment.”
Ford told the service that Pierzchala’s death was a “painful reminder that policing is a family calling.”
“The people he really served will never forget your sacrifice,” Ford said to the officer’s family. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your son and brother with us.”
A procession that was held before the private funeral saw a police motorcade make its way through the streets of Barrie as several members of the public watched.
Inside the arena, officers were asked to remove their peaked caps as Pierzchala’s casket was carried to the front of the venue.
Police have said Pierzchala had been a provincial officer for just over a year and had been notified hours before his death that he had passed his 10-month probation period.
Pierzchala was also previously a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and a constable at the provincial legislature.
He dreamt of joining the police ranks as a boy and his colleagues have remembered him as a wonderful officer with a big heart made of gold.
Court documents show 25-year-old Randall McKenzie – one of two people accused in the attack on Pierzchala – had been denied bail in an unrelated case involving a number of assault and weapons charges months before the shooting, but was released after a review.
A warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to show up for a court date in August, the documents show.
Since the shooting, calls have grown for the federal government to reform its bail policy.
Sharif Hassan, The Canadian Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.