RCMP ask why suspect with ‘complex’ past was on the streets

RCMP Constable David Matthew Wynn, 42, a beloved community leader and hockey dad whose lifelong dream was to be a Mountie, remained in grave condition in hospital Sunday, a day after he was shot in the head at close range while investigating a report of a stolen vehicle.

An RCMP auxiliary officer, a civilian volunteer, was also shot in the same attack inside an Alberta casino and survived despite being hit in the arm and torso. He has been released from hospital. Constable Wynn, who has a wife and three children, is being treated moment to moment.

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“He sustained a life threatening injury to the head. Close range. We do not expect him to survive,” said RCMP deputy commissioner Marianne Ryan. “He’s being treated and looked after in the hospital but it is not optimistic.”

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson expressed his sorrow at a news conference in Edmonton.

He has ordered an analysis of how the suspect, who had a lengthy criminal record and was facing additional charges, was on the streets.

“We need to have a full understanding of what was an incredibly complex criminal history, that was very, very active right up until the moment he shot our officers,” Commissioner Paulson said. “I’ve been in policing 30 years and I’ve not seen the likes of what I’ve seen here.”

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. The officers had no idea who they were dealing with, according to Commissioner Paulson, but were simply pursuing an investigation in a public place.

Constable Wynn did not fire his weapon during the confrontation and his partner, as a volunteer auxiliary, is not permitted to carry a firearm. The RCMP deploy more than 2,000 auxiliary volunteers as a complement to its policing capabilities, according to the RCMP website. They work under the supervision of regular officers. Commissioner Paulson said the focus should not be on the police response, nor should it be seen as a “firepower issue.” The question that needs to be understood is whether it was reasonable “for this man to be walking around us,” he said.

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 RCMP said they did not establish contact with Mr. Rehn and their officers did not fire at him. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

The shooting stunned the small community of St. Albert, just outside Edmonton, where Constable Wynn was a resource officer at the Keenooshayo elementary school.

“Once the RCMP released his name, the school was pretty rocked. I know the staff is pretty upset, understandably,” said Paula Power, spokeswoman for the St. Albert public schools. “I know in speaking with the principal, the kids love him and he loves the kids.”

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.

Mike Conklin knew Constable Wynn as a fellow hockey dad in Bridgewater, N.S. He remembered vividly the day Constable Wynn announced that he would be leaving to train at the RCMP depot in Regina. The constable, a former assistant coach on his son’s team and a dedicated organizer, said he was fulfilling his life’s ambition to become a Mountie, Mr. Conklin said. Constable Wynn always seemed to be doing something for his three sons, ferrying them to games and practices and was always willing to take on his share of the planning and co-ordination work.

“David is one of those good hockey dads,” Mr. Conklin said. “He did an awful lot for his kids.”

John May, who worked with Constable Wynn as a paramedic and taught him when he started back in the mid-1990s, said the officer was well-respected and well-liked. There was sadness when he left for the RCMP, Mr. May said, because they were losing such a capable colleague.

“I think helping people is what he still wanted to do, but in a different capacity,” he said.

It’s not known why the confrontation inside the casino turned violent so quickly. The RCMP did not detail Mr. Rehn’s criminal record, but he had been accused of various crimes involving firearms in the past. In 2005, he was accused of forcing his way into a home in Edmonton with a gun and is alleged to have driven the victim to an ATM and robbed him of money, according to a story in the local newspaper. He was also accused in a theft of hockey memorabilia, and of possessing guns and a crossbow in other cases.

In St. Albert, the local school district said the impact of the shooting will be felt for some time to come. Constable Wynn was described as an important resource who had worked with the school for the past five years. He taught the DARE anti-drug program to Grade 6 students and was a regular presence at assemblies and Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“It’s so difficult,” Ms. Power said. “St. Albert is very tightly knit and I know the whole community will feel this for a long time.”

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