Jan 13 2011 TORONTO - A homeless man accused of running down and killing a police officer with a stolen snowplow was charged Thursday with first-degree murder.
Police Chief Bill Blair identified the accused as Richard Esber Kachkar of no fixed address.
Sgt. Ryan Russell died of severe head injuries Wednesday after he attempted to stop the plow on a slushy city street and was struck.
"This has been an investigation which has been aided by the availability of video from Sgt. Russell's scout car," Blair said.
"The matter will now be placed before the courts."
Several civilian witnesses also stepped forward and police are grateful, Blair said.
In addition, Kachkar, 44, who is believed to have lived in St. Catharines, Ont., at one point, faces two counts of attempted murder.
Kachkar remained in hospital Thursday recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during his arrest. He was apprehended by heavily armed emergency task force officers about seven kilometres from where Russell was left mortally wounded on the bloodstained snow.
Relatives of the accused were unable to shed any light on him or the incident.
Anwar Kachkar, of Edmonton, said he hadn't seen his nephew in decades and had no connection to him.
His parents "died a long time ago," the uncle said.
The province's Special Investigations Unit, which was probing the situation because a civilian was injured, said it planned to canvass the area where Kachkar was shot.
"We'll have a team of investigators out there doing a door-to-door canvass to glean any new information or identify any witnesses," spokesman Frank Phillips said.
Police were also working with Russell's family to arrange the funeral for the 35-year-old officer. He left behind his wife Christine and two-year-old son Nolan.
It was still not certain when the funeral would be held but officers from across North America were expected to attend.
The incident began when a barefoot suspect jumped into the snowplow early Wednesday in the city's downtown area and sped off, ramming numerous vehicles.
Russell, an 11-year member with the Toronto police service and the son of a retired officer, died in an attempt to end the wild chase through city streets.
The suspect was only apprehended about an hour later after crashing the plow and being shot by police.
Russell had been promoted to sergeant six months ago after working with the city's guns and gangs task force.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford called Russell a "shining example" of the men and women who put their lives on the line as officers.
"(They) earn the respect and appreciation of us all."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in Toronto for an unrelated announcement, took a moment to express "heartfelt sorrow" over Russell's death.
"This is a terrible incident that does serve unfortunately to remind us all of the dangerous work that our law enforcement officers undertake on our behalf," Harper said Thursday.
"We want to have him, his family, his friends and his colleagues in our thoughts and prayers today and we would ask everyone to do the same."
Premier Dalton McGuinty called the tragedy a "grim reminder" that the dangers of policing cannot be taken for granted.
"All Ontarians are shocked by this tragedy, and we stand united in supporting Sgt. Russell's family," McGuinty said in a statement.
Mike McCormack, of the city's police union, called it a "tragic day," saying Russell had made the "ultimate sacrifice" doing his duty.
"We've lost a great officer, a great friend, a husband and a father," McCormack said.
"I can't imagine the grief that the family is going through right now."
Colleagues and friends described the officer as a dedicated and friendly family man. He was married, with a small son.
People have lined up at police headquarters to sign a book of condolence while several pages have also been filled in a book of condolence at Toronto City Hall.
His death marked the first for a Toronto police officer in the line of duty since 2002.
"This is the worst of days for the Toronto Police Service," a sombre Blair said outside the hospital emergency entrance shortly after Russell, 35, succumbed.
"(He) put his life on the line and tragically has lost his life."