'He was truly exceptional': Slain B.C. RCMP officer identified
B.C. RCMP have identified the officer killed while executing a search warrant in Coquitlam Friday morning as Const. Rick O'Brien.
O'Brien and colleagues from the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment were executing the warrant at a home on Glen Drive when they "became engaged in an altercation with a man which resulted in multiple officers being injured and the man being shot," Mounties said in an official statement earlier in the day.
Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, the commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, shared O'Brien's name at a news conference Friday afternoon.
"This is an extremely tragic and difficult day," McDonald said. "To say that today has been a struggle is an understatement. Our RCMP family is, once again, gutted."
McDonald's voice broke slightly as he pointed out that Friday's incident came just days before the B.C. law enforcement memorial in Victoria, and not quite one year after the killing of Const. Shaelyn Yang in Burnaby.
"We're still healing from that tragic loss," McDonald said. "And yet, here we are again. We must do everything necessary to support our members, their families and our community."
The commissioner said he visited with O'Brien's family before speaking to reporters Friday. He said he shared his condolences and those of the RCMP.
O'Brien was born in Ottawa and had been an RCMP officer for seven years, all of them spent working at the Ridge Meadows detachment. He was 51 years old.
Supt. Wendy Mehat, the officer in charge of the detachment, called O'Brien's death "the most difficult moment" of her RCMP career.
"I cannot speak to the details of what unfolded today, but I can share that 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," Mehat said.
"He was truly exceptional – a hard-worker and a good human being. His death is senseless and heart-breaking."
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a statement Friday evening that he was "shocked and saddened" by O'Brien's death.
"We stand with the colleagues, families and loved ones of Const. Rick O'Brien," Farnworth said. "Beneath the uniform, an officer is a person with a family, friends, and dreams – they believe in their communities and sacrifice of themselves to keep us all safe."
Premier David Eby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also shared their condolences in social media posts.
A biography of O'Brien posted on the website of the Gratitude and Appreciation Summit indicates that he was assigned to the Ridge Meadows RCMP Uniformed Community Response Unit.
During his first year of service, the bio reads, he successfully disrupted a violent home invasion with six other members of the RCMP. He received a commissioner's commendation pin and a medal of valour for his efforts, which contributed to the arrest of four armed suspects.
Before joining the force, he worked as an education assistant, mental health worker and youth worker, according to the bio.
"Rick is a very giving and loving brother, son, father and husband," the bio reads. "Family is important to Rick. Together, Rick and his wife, Nicole have 6 kids, 3 on both sides, which makes for a very dynamic and entertaining living condition."