EDMONTON — Officers embraced each other and wiped away tears Thursday as Edmonton's police chief relayed details of how two constables were shot and killed at an apartment complex while responding to a domestic violence call.
"Today, the Edmonton Police Service has been marked by an unthinkable and horrific tragedy as two of our members have died in the line of duty," Chief Dale McFee told a packed and solemn news conference at police headquarters.
He spoke in an atrium packed with more than 100 officers and police staff. Members held and patted each other.
A young man considered a suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, McFee said.
A police source later said the suspect was 16 and that he also shot and wounded his mother.
McFee identified the officers who died as Const. Travis Jordan, 35, an 8 1/2-year veteran with the Edmonton force, and Const. Brett Ryan, 30, who had been with the service for 5 1/2 years.
McFee said the officers were called shortly before 1 a.m. to a family dispute at an apartment building in northwest Edmonton, part of a large red-brick complex of three-storey walk-ups.
They went inside the building, approached the suite and were shot, he said.
"All indications are they did not have a chance to discharge their firearms."
The officers were rushed to hospital by colleagues who worked to keep them alive, said McFee. They were declared dead at hospital.
He said a woman related to the suspect was taken with life-threatening injuries to hospital, where she remained in serious but stable condition.
McFee said supports are being offered to the officers' families and colleagues.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said officers' families send their loved ones to work every day and hope they'll return home safely.
"This did not happen today for Ryan's and Jordan's families," he said.
"When you see an officer working to keep you safe, please thank them for their service."
About a dozen police cars and a forensics truck were parked near the apartment complex. The scene was taped off and a road leading into the area was also blocked.
Linda Fjeldsted, who lives in the adjacent apartment block, said she was awakened by the early-morning commotion and saw police running in every direction.
"We saw somebody being hauled out (and) somebody in an ambulance. I heard the yelling and the talking and the police telling people to get back (in) their apartments. The police were very, very upset," she said.
"I felt like I was watching something on TV."
Fjeldsted said the complex is a mostly quiet place where the lawns are kept trim and the flower beds tended and is filled with families from different cultures.
"I like it here."
Some people shared their memories of the officers.In his spare time, Ryan was a minor hockey official.
“Brett Ryan was a pillar within our community and will be missed by all who knew him,” said a social media post from the Spruce Grove Minor Hockey Association. “We take this time to honour his life and the contributions he has made to the Edmonton community and beyond."
Ryan's friend Darcy Carter said Ryan was a paramedic before he became a police officer, adding he was passionate about his work and his duty to serve the community.
"That’s something that I’ll never forget … just his face lighting up when he talked about his job," Carter said.
Carter said Ryan was also about to become a father for the first time, as his wife is expecting.
Jordan was remembered as kind.
In 2020, Jessica Shmigelsky was driving to work after a heavy spring snowfall. Her snowbrush had broken and Jordan pulled her over because she had too much snow on her vehicle.
Instead of giving her a ticket, he brushed off her car.
"He did his job and he did more than what his job really entailed," said Shmigelsky
She still has the snowbrush Jordan gave her.
Police officers lined the street near the medical examiner's office as an escort carrying the bodies arrived, saluting their fallen comrades. Flowers were also placed outside the west division police station, where the slain officers worked and where flags flew at half-mast.
Flags were also at half-mast at the Alberta legislature. A moment of silence was observed before question period.
“The province mourns the loss of these two heroes,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis on behalf of the United Conservative Party government.
“The sudden and tragic deaths of these officers remind us again of the dangers police officers constantly face when they serve the people of Alberta.”
New Democrat Opposition Leader Rachel Notley urged all members to work to create more safe, secure communities.
“We owe it the memory of Const. Jordan and Const. Ryan to come together to find solutions,” she said. “We owe it to all first responders, their families, and all Albertans to do everything we can to keep officers safe as they set out each day to do the same for us.”
Premier Danielle Smith was in her riding in southern Alberta.
Thursday's killings are the first among the Edmonton force since 2015.
Const. Daniel Woodall, a hate crimes investigator, was using a battering ram to enter a home when he was shot numerous times through a door. Another officer was struck by a round that penetrated his body armour and he survived.
In 1990, Const. Ezio Faraone was shot and killed responding to an armed robbery.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2023.
— With files from Ritika Dubey, Jeremy Simes and Bob Weber in Edmonton, Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon and Emily Blake in Yellowknife
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Angela Amato, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story; An earlier version had the incorrect spelling of Fjeldsted.