As tributes continue to pour in for an RCMP officer who was tragically killed in Coquitlam, B.C., Friday morning, a fundraiser has been launched to offer support to his loved ones.
“The National Police Federation Benevolent Foundation, in partnership with the National Police Federation, is collecting funds for the family of Cst. Rick O’Brien, who was tragically murdered while on-duty during a violent altercation in Coquitlam, B.C. on September 22, 2023,” said the GoFundMe
“Cst. O’Brien was a loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend.”
The campaign was organized by Kevin Halwa, chair of the foundation. It was set up on the evening of Sept. 22 and has received over $30,000 in donations as of press time.
In a post
on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, the National Police Federation issued a statement, saying it will “never forget” the “ultimate sacrifice” of Cst. O’Brien.
“No one should fear their next shift could be their last, and no colleague should have to bear the unfathomable loss of a fallen peer,” said the federation in the early morning of Sept. 23.
Cst. O'Brien was part of a team from Ridge Meadows RCMP. The 51-year-old was shot dead
and two other officers were injured on Friday as they tried to execute a search warrant on a home near the intersection of Pine Tree Way and Glen Drive in Coquitlam.
The slain officer, survived by his wife and children, was decorated for bravery in the rescue of victims during a home invasion within months of joining the RCMP in 2016, according
to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald.
“Cst. O’Brien led by example. He had a great sense of humour. He was well respected by his peers and he was loved in his community,” said the deputy commissioner in a press conference
hours after the officer’s death.
He added that Cst. O’Brien died at the scene. One injured officer is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries while the other suffered minor injuries and was discharged. A suspect in his 20s was also shot and is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has been deployed and will assume conduct of the investigation into the officer’s death and the injuries to the other officers.
The province's Independent Investigations Office (IIO) will conduct an inquiry into the conduct of the police. The civilian-led agency is responsible for probing incidents involving law enforcement that lead to death or severe injury.
‘Senseless and Heartbreaking’
The Epoch Times reached out to both teams for updates. IHIT said they would respond but could not provide the updates by publication time.
IIO spokesperson Simon Druker said in a statement that, as the investigation of the case is “still in the very early stages,” the team has “no further information to share” beyond what was said in its Sept. 22 news release
that an investigation is already underway.
Ridge Meadows Supt. Wendy Mehat said the death of Cst. O’Brien is “the most difficult moment” in her career with the RCMP.
“The loss of Rick will be felt deeply by his family, his colleagues, and the community of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam and across the country. Rick’s contribution to his work and his fellow team members at this detachment was immeasurable,” said the superintendent at the same press conference on Sept. 22.
“His death is senseless and heartbreaking. He simply went to work today and was killed keeping his community safe.”
‘Beneath the Uniform’
The city of Pitt Meadows and the city of Vancouver have said they would lower flags to half-mast to express their condolences. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith similarly said
she has ordered flags at the Alberta legislature to half-mast in honour of Cst. O’Brien.
During the morning of Sept. 22, RCMP announced
the closing of Glen Drive in Coquitlam, the result of “an ongoing police incident.” By the evening, it said
there was “no further concern for public safety” but the road will remain closed between Pinetree Way to High Street.
B.C. Premier David Eby said
all three officers involved in the altercation are “shining examples of the extraordinary individuals.”
“Words cannot properly express our condolences to Constable O’Brien’s family and loved ones,” he wrote
in a series of posts on X on Sept. 22.
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issued a statement
on the same day, saying the province will stand with the colleagues, family, and loved ones of Cst. O’Brien.
“Beneath the uniform an officer is person with a family, friends, and dreams,” Mr. Farnworth said.
“They believe in their communities and sacrifice of themselves to keep us all safe.”
Doug Lett and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.