‘Words cannot describe our grief’: Two officers killed after shooting in Innisfil
October 12, 2022 By The Canadian Press
Oct. 12, 2022, Innisfil, Ont. – An officer who worked with outreach and mental health teams and a veteran constable who was a trained crisis negotiator were identified Wednesday as the two police officers who died after a shooting in a town north of Toronto – an event that left residents of the quiet community in shock.
The South Simcoe Police Service said the officers had responded to a disturbance at an Innisfil, Ont., home around 8 p.m. on Tuesday when the shooting took place.
“Words cannot describe our grief,” acting police chief John Van Dyke said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “This is a heartbreaking time for our police service, the families impacted, our emergency services personnel and our communities.”
Van Dyke identified the officers as Const. Devon Northrup and Const. Morgan Russell.
Northrup, 33, was a six-year member of the service and was working with the community mobilization and engagement unit. He also served as a member of the mental health crisis outreach team and the emergency response unit. He is survived by his partner, parents and many friends, police said.
Russell, 54, was with the force for 33 years, said Van Dyke, who grew emotional for a moment while describing the officer.
“This is personal for me. I went to police college with Morgan 33 years ago,” he said.
Russell was a trained crisis negotiator and was assigned to uniform patrol, the force said. He is survived by his wife and two teenage children.
Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, said the officers were involved in a shooting with a 23-year-old man inside the home they were called to.
“There was an exchange of gunfire between the man and officers,” the SIU wrote in a statement. “The man was pronounced deceased at the scene. Two officers were taken to hospital where they died.”
Police said Northrup died at a local hospital while Russell died after being airlifted to a Toronto trauma centre in critical condition.
John Ridge, who has lived in the area for 26 years, said he was heading to bed Tuesday night when he saw two police cars rush by his house with their lights on.
“Woke up this morning and two police officers were shot 10 doors from my house,” the 66-year-old said.
“I think it’s horrible. I’m sickened by it. These guys go out and put their lives on the line for us every single day. And this is the kind of thanks they get?”
Ridge and other neighbours said an elderly couple who had an adult grandson lived in the house where the shooting took place.
“I had just met the grandfather, really nice guy,” Ridge said. “To have a police officer shot in your neighbourhood is just not acceptable.”
Cindy Le, who lives in a home across the street from where the shooting took place, said she had heard sirens on Tuesday night.
“It’s terrible,” she said of what had happened. “It’s sad. Really sad.”
Le, who has lived in the area for seven years, said the residential neighbourhood is typically a quiet, safe one. “I love the neighbourhood,” the 53-year-old said.
Archibald Torrance, who also lives in the area, said he was shocked by what had taken place.
“I don’t think it’s right,” the 82-year-old said. “These policemen are doing a job.”
Yellow police tape cordoned off a portion of the street where the shooting took place. Several police vehicles could be seen in the area on Wednesday morning and a police helicopter was seen flying overhead at one point.
The Town of Innisfil said it was a “devastating day.”
“We’re heartbroken at the loss of our officers,” it wrote on Twitter. “We extend our thoughts to the officers’ families & all members of our emergency services teams.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was deeply saddened by the news.
“We are praying for the officers’ families and all the police officers who put their lives on the line to protect our communities,” he said in a written statement Wednesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also sent his condolences.
“My thoughts are also with the loved ones of these officers and the entire Innisfil community,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trudeau said later Wednesday morning that the federal Liberal government was working to step up on gun control, noting a ban on assault weapons and a freeze on purchasing handguns among recent measures brought in.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police said it was devastated as it mourns the loss of the two officers. “Our sorrow deepens,” the association tweeted.
The SIU said it has assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to the case. The agency is called in to investigate police conduct that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or a shooting.
The deaths of the two officers came a month after a Toronto police officer, Const. Andrew Hong, was killed on Sept. 12 while on break at a Tim Hortons in Mississauga, Ont.
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