A police officer shot and killed in the line of duty this week was a joyful, gentle giant who loved his four kids dearly, a church leader said Friday as investigators probed the incident that also left a 60-year-old man dead.
The community on Manitoulin Island is mourning Const. Marc Hovingh, a beloved 28-year veteran of the Ontario Provincial Police, said Ben Quackenbush, a youth minister at Mindemoya Missionary Church, which Hovingh attended for two decades.
“Anyone who ever met Marc knew he had a big physical presence, but professionally, he never used that to be intimidating,” Quackenbush said. “His presence was always really calm and peaceful.
He said Hovingh “loved his family more than anything”—he had three daughters and a son, all young adults—and often offered to help out with youth events at the church where his wife was heavily involved.
“Whenever we had special events, he was happy to entertain the youth, taking them out to the woods or in his boat, or entertaining them with some crazy characters or shenanigans,” Quackenbush said.
He said the church community is mourning, but they take comfort knowing he’s in a better place.
“All of our towns here are pretty small, and everyone maybe doesn’t know everybody, but everyone’s pretty well connected,” he said. “And when you’re a police officer, you’re a little bit more public and a little better known.”
He said Hovingh was “liked and respected across the island.”
The circumstances surrounding Hovingh’s death are still under investigation.
Officials have said a 60-year-old man—who has yet to be publicly identified—also died in Thursday’s shooting.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU)—Ontario’s police watchdog—is probing the civilian’s death, while OPP said Sudbury police will investigate Hovingh’s death.
The SIU said Hovingh was shot and killed after he and another officer responded to a call about an “unwanted man” on a property in Gore Bay—one of several towns on Manitoulin Island.
The agency said he and the man exchanged gunfire, and both died after being taken to hospital.
The other officer was uninjured in the incident.
The mayor of Gore Bay said the shooting has left the community reeling.
Dan Osborne said news of the incident quickly spread through the small island community.
“We’re a large island, but we are small in numbers,” he said. “Everybody knows everyone, and it’s pretty devastating.”
By Nicole Thompson