Hundreds honour slain Toronto police officer
The Toronto police officer who was killed last week while trying to stop a stolen snowplow was remembered by friends and family at a funeral home north of the city Sunday.
A large crowd numbering in the hundreds turned up for the visitation, with a long line forming outside the door prior to the 1 p.m. start time.
Canada's law enforcement community is also expected to appear in full force for a public funeral at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Tuesday.
Sgt. Ryan Russell, 35, was crushed by the plow in the line of duty on Wednesday, leaving behind his wife Christine and two-year-old son Nolan.
The 11-year veteran, whose father was a Toronto police officer, was promoted to sergeant in August 2010 after spending about four years with the guns and gangs task force.
Const. Daniela Bianchi, a former colleague from the task force, said that those who knew Russell will "miss him very much.
"(He was) wonderful, caring, giving. He was here to protect everybody. He joined this job and sadly he died doing exactly what he wanted to do: protect everybody."
Meanwhile, police continue to probe the death, with officers canvassing residents in the Avenue and Davenport Roads area for additional evidence.
Police are also asking for people to come forward if their property was damaged, as the snowplow had been driven erratically through the area early Wednesday.
Sunday's visitation took place at the Jerrett Funeral Home, located at 8088 Yonge St. in Thornhill. A visitation on Monday is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Since Russell's death, people have been flocking to Toronto police headquarters to sign a book of condolences. A makeshift memorial also sprang up at the intersection where Russell was killed.
On Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs honoured Russell before a game against the Calgary Flames. A tribute is also being held overseas in Afghanistan.
Russell's family issued a statement on Thursday: "We wish to thank all members of the Toronto Police Service, the Toronto Police Association and all our friends, family and all the exceptional members of the public, for their outpouring of love and support, thoughts and prayers.
"Every single member of Ryan's family is touched. The warm, heartfelt comments bring much comfort to our hearts," they said.
Estimates have suggested a crowd well into the thousands will be on hand on Tuesday for the elaborate public ceremony, from local police officers to representatives from forces across the country and the United States, as well as the public at large.
The 1 p.m. service for will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, located near the intersection of Front Street West and John Street.
Toronto Police Transit Services has been warning drivers to avoid the downtown area near the convention centre whenever possible. The disruptions will last until 6 p.m.
Richard Kachkar, 44, is charged with first-degree murder in Russell's death and remains in hospital under guard as he recovers from bullet wounds suffered during his arrest.
The suspect has a court date scheduled for Jan. 21.
On Sunday, the Toronto Police Association issued a statement thanking the public for its care and support over the past few days.
"On behalf of all members of the Toronto Police Association, I want to say thank you for the outpouring of sympathy, understanding and compassion after the senseless slaying of Sgt. Ryan Russell, a dedicated police officer, a husband, father and son."
Vaughan MP Julian Fantino, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and NDP Leader Jack Layton also attended the visitation.