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RCMP 'gutted' by death of Const. Rick O'Brien, 51, shot in Coquitlam

(UPDATE: Sept. 22, 2023 @ 5:35 pm): The death of another Mountie in British Columbia less than a year after the last killing “enrages” the lead officer in the province.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said Const. Rick O’Brien, 51, was shot dead and two other officers were injured on Friday as they tried to execute a search warrant in Coquitlam, B.C.

<who> Photo Credit: BC RCMP

A suspect in his 20s was also shot and is in hospital with non−life−threatening injuries.

O’Brien, who had a wife and children, was decorated for bravery in the rescue of victims during a home invasion within months of joining the RCMP in 2016.

“This is an extremely difficult and tragic day for our members,” McDonald said Friday. “Const. O’Brien led by example. He had a great sense of humour. He was well respected by his peers and he was loved in his community.”

He said O’Brien was part of a team from Ridge Meadows RCMP that had been serving a search warrant at a home in the neighbouring community of Coquitlam.

McDonald said O’Brien died at the scene. One injured officer is in hospital with non−life−threatening injuries, he said, while the other suffered minor injuries and was discharged.

While McDonald didn’t reveal details about the investigation, he said it was a long−term probe.

A procession of RCMP vehicles led an ambulance carrying O’Brien’s body from Coquitlam to Abbotsford later Friday.

O’Brien’s death comes just 11 months after the death of RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang, who was stabbed to death while accompanying a Burnaby, B.C., city worker to a homeless campsite.

McDonald said the past year had been a tragic one for police departments across Canada.

“It hurts. It really hurts. I’m outraged,” he said. “To see police officers across this country killed trying to protect their communities enrages me.”

Policing was a second career for O’Brien, who worked with at−risk youth before joining the RCMP. His entire career was spent at the Ridge Meadows detachment.

Supt. Wendy Mehat, the officer in charge of Ridge Meadows, said speaking about the impact of O’Brien’s death was the most difficult moment of her career.

"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 (with) food drives and sport events," she said.

"He was truly exceptional, a hard worker and a good human being. His death is senseless and heartbreaking." Mehat said.

McDonald said O’Brien’s death seemed to speak to an issue he and his colleagues across the country have been talking about.

"Perhaps painting police in a certain light … sometimes seems to encourage people to resist authority and disrespect the profession of policing and, quite honestly, fight the police," he said.

"I’m not commenting on this particular instance. But I will say that this is a stark reminder that the police are here to help you."

The Independent Investigations Office said in a statement that the officers went to a home in the Metro Vancouver city on Friday.

"While there, the attending officers became engaged in an altercation with a man which resulted in multiple officers being injured and the man being shot," the statement said.

"Emergency Health Services transported all injured to hospital, but one of the officers who was shot succumbed to their injuries."

Carley Hodges, a witness in the busy area of city, described a chaotic scene, with an officer receiving CPR as he was put in an ambulance, another officer with a wound on his leg and a tourniquet above it, and a man in handcuffs.

Hodges said there were "tons of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks coming in."

Mehat said O’Brien’s death was "senseless and heartbreaking."

"He simply went to work today, and he was killed, doing his duty and keeping his community safe. The hours, weeks and months ahead will be difficult to our communities and Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam and across the country."

B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said he was shocked and saddened to learn of O’Brien’s death.

“All three officers are shining examples of the extraordinary individuals who chose to take on the challenging mantle of protecting the public.

“I have spoken to the local mayors, and we all agree that the death of an officer is a stark reminder of the dangers police face to keep us safe. They put their lives on the line every day to fulfil their oath to protect our communities."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent his condolences to O’Brien’s family, friends and colleagues on social media.

"And to the officers who were injured: I’m wishing you a fast and full recovery."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said police were trying to serve an arrest warrant.


(Update: Sept. 22, 2023 @3:30 pm): The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO BC) has confirmed that one officer is dead after an incident in Coquitlam this afternoon.

Two other officers were injured and were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The IIO, the police watchdog in BC, said that officers were executing a search warrant on a residence near the intersection of Pine Tree Way and Glen Drive.

“While there, the attending officers became engaged in an altercation with a man, which resulted in multiple officers being injured and the man being shot,” a statement from the IIO says.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has been deployed and will assume conduct of the investigation into the officer’s death and the injuries to the other officers.

The IIO BC will concurrently investigate the actions of police.

(Original story: Sept. 22, 2023 @ 12:40 pm):

British Columbia Premier David Eby says there’s been a critical incident involving RCMP in the Metro Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam.

A witness on the scene says she saw an officer with a bloody leg and a tourniquet above the wound.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart says officers were injured, but he couldn’t confirm what their injuries were.

Coquitlam Mounties announced shortly after 11 am that an area several blocks long in a business and residential area of the city had been closed off due to an ongoing police incident.

Eby told media who had gathered for a question−and−answer session after his speech to local politicians that the incident was very serious and they would release more information as soon as they could.

He says the public is no longer in danger.

Yan Wang manages a dental office near the area that is closed off, and says police asked them to shut the office and stay away for the rest of the day and tomorrow.



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