A Mountie who was shot in the head trying to capture a gunman at an Alberta casino has died, the RCMP confirmed Wednesday.
Police say Constable David Matthew Wynn, who was 42, never regained consciousness after he was wounded last Saturday morning.
He leaves his wife, Shelly, and three sons: Matthew, Nathan and Alexander.
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Mounties say there will be a regimental funeral for Constable Wynn in the Edmonton area, with details to follow.
“His wife lost a husband, and his sons lost a father,” Deputy RCMP Commissioner Marianne Ryan said in a statement. “Words cannot express the
deep sadness we feel today.”
Constable Wynn was shot early Saturday morning while investigating a report of a stolen car at the Apex casino in St. Albert. He and auxiliary constable Derek Walter Bond, 49, were inside the casino at about 3 a.m. when they were fired upon by a man identified by police as 34-year-old Shawn Maxwell Rehn, who was subject to a lifetime weapons ban. They were trying to physically place their hands on him to apprehend him when he pulled out a handgun and shot each of them once. The entire incident lasted just three to five seconds, the RCMP said.
Constable Wynn did not fire his weapon during the confrontation and his partner, as a volunteer auxiliary, is not permitted to carry a firearm.
After shooting the officers, Mr. Rehn fled the casino. He eventually broke into an unoccupied home in the area. The home was surrounded by police and Mr. Rehn was later found dead inside. An investigation into his death has been launched by Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team.
The shooting stunned the small community of St. Albert, just outside Edmonton, where Constable Wynn was a resource officer at the Keenooshayo elementary school.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said Wednesday the community is collectively mourning the
loss of Constable Wynn. “Policing is a noble profession, where ordinary
people do extraordinary things to help keep our communities safe,” the mayor
said. “Our thoughts are with RCMP Constable Wynn’s family as we collectively
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed condolences on behalf of all Canadians on Wednesday.
“This was a brazen and cowardly assault on our brave law enforcement officers,”
Mr. Harper said in a statement. “It is a grim reminder of how law officers in
communities across the country put their lives on the line every day to protect
Canadians from harm. We mourn with all RCMP members today.”
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said Wynn paid the ultimate sacrifice. “May his
family and friends gather strength and find solace in the outpouring of support
from citizens across our province and across our country, as together we grieve
for our fallen Canadian hero.”
Constable Wynn joined the RCMP in 2009 after working as a paramedic in Nova Scotia for more than a decade. Friends and colleagues there spoke of his professionalism and dedication.
When Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1998, Constable Wynn was one of the first responders at the scene, said Ismael Aquino, provincial director for the Red Cross. As a paramedic supervisor, Constable Wynn activated the emergency response plan and was at Peggys Cove, N.S., co-ordinating the deployment of the 50 ambulances that waited in vain for news that any of the 229 passengers had survived.
The Alberta government had consented to Mr. Rehn’s release on bail in a brief hearing in September with no mention of his long criminal record, and no discussion of whether he was a danger to society, a transcript shows.
The province’s consent flies in the face of comments by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who said that in light of Mr. Rehn’s long, complex criminal record he should not have been walking around free. Mr. Rehn had served three federal jail sentences, including one of five years for which he was released in 2013. Mr. Rehn’s nearly 60 offences were mostly non-violent, but included one from 2001 for assault with a weapon, and an assault in mid-2013 for which he received one day in jail. He was also subject to an indefinite ban on restricted weapons. None of that was discussed in the hearing.
Mr. Rehn was already free on bail on several charges when he was arrested again in September after a brief foot chase that ensued when the owner of a stolen motorcycle discovered Mr. Rehn driving his vehicle. Mr. Rehn faced 15 charges from two jurisdictions, including possession of an illegal weapon – a spring-loaded knife – which was doubly illegal, in that an Ontario judge had put him under an indefinite ban on possession of restricted weapons in 2011.
With reports from Joe Friesen, Tu Thanh Ha, Justin Giovannetti and Sean Fine