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OPP officer killed in shooting near Hagersville, Ont. identified; 2 suspects arrested

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Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Const. Grzegorz "Greg" Pierzchala was just starting to live his dream as a member of the force when it was cut short Tuesday afternoon after he was killed in a shooting near Hagersville, Ont.

Pierzchala was 28.

"Our hearts are actually broken as a policing family," said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique during a news conference late Tuesday evening.

Carrique said Pierzchala, who joined the OPP over a year ago, responded to a call about a vehicle in a ditch in the area of Indian Line and Concession 14 just after 2:30 p.m.

He said when the constable arrived and approached the vehicle, two occupants opened fire.

"I have no reason to believe that the officer had any opportunity to fire his weapon," Carrique said.

Pierzchala sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

OPP cruiser blocks the road as officers investigate a shooting near Hagersville, Ont.

Police subsequently began a search of two suspects, a 25-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, seen fleeing the area in a vehicle. OPP issued an alert advising residents to shelter in place as they looked for the suspects.

In the alert, police released photos of the alleged suspects but only identified one of them – Randall Mckenzie. Police said the two fugitives were believed to be armed.

The alert was later cancelled following the arrest of the suspects. It was unclear where they were apprehended.

"They were taken into custody in a very short period of time, and there was no immediate risk to any of the public (during) the time they were at large," Carrique said.

Randall Mckenzie is described as a 25-year-old Indigenous male with black hair, driving a black 2021 Chevrolet pickup truck. (OPP)

He noted that the male suspect was taken to the hospital with injuries considered to be not serious. When asked if the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has invoked its mandate, the commissioner said the agency had not done so. The SIU is called to investigate incidents involving police where there has been a serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault.

The circumstance surrounding the shooting are unknown. In an earlier news conference, OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk said the investigation is in its early stages.

"There's just a lot of details to go through, so we're putting the pieces of the puzzle together," he said, adding that residents in the area should continue to see heavy police presence as officers collect evidence.

OPP are urging anyone with information to contact them at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

'Greg' remembered

Tuesday began as a momentous day for Pierzchala, who was a former Queen's Park special constable.

"There's a 10-month probation period that an officer has to go through -- a very extensive evaluation of their performance. And today, Greg had received notice that he has successfully completed that probationary period," Carrique said.

With the end of his probation period, Pierzchala was able to go on solo patrol for the first time on Tuesday. Carrique confirmed the 28-year-old was on his own when he responded to the call.

"This is a man who, at five years old, decided he wanted to be a police officer. And he had a brief opportunity to live out his dream and to do his best to keep our community safe," Carrique said. "And unfortunately, he paid the ultimate sacrifice doing so today."

The commissioner said he spoke to Pierzchala's colleagues, who described him as an "exemplary" and "tremendous" officer.

Meanwhile, Sanchuk echoed Carrique's sentiments, saying Pierzchala's fellow officers remembered him as a "great guy" who was a pleasure to work with.

"I'm truly at a loss for words tonight. We lost a family member, a police officer, and you know what a good community member," Sanchuk said.

"(He) was a great person to be around, always bubbly and a real, great cop. It's a substantial loss to everybody."

Grzegorz Pierzchala seen in this undated photo was killed in a shooting near Hagersville, Ont. on Dec. 27, 2022. (Supplied)

Sanchuk said police have put in place some mental health teams to support officers and family members.

The OPP Association, which represents all civilian and non-commissioned uniform of the force, said in a statement that Pierzchala's "service and sacrifice will never be forgotten."

"He will always be remembered as Hero in Life, Not Death. Our members go to work every day to serve and protect the citizens of Ontario. They do a dangerous job 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year throughout the province of Ontario. This situation demonstrates that there is no such thing as a routine call in policing," the OPPA said.

The mayor of Haldimand County, where the shooting took place, released a statement offering her condolences.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of one of our officers, who died today in the line of duty. Every day, our County's first responders risk their lives for the safety of our community, and a tragedy like today's is one we hope never comes," Mayor Shelley Bentley said.

"Our hearts go out to the officer's family, his OPP colleagues, and all first responders impacted by this horrific event.

Bentley added: "I know there's nothing I can say to lessen this tragic loss, but to all who are grieving, know that the community grieves with you."

Premier Doug Ford tweeted that he was horrified by the incident.

"Our first responders are true heroes," Ford said. "We share in the pain felt by family, friends and the entire police community as Ontario mourns this loss."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "Heartbreaking news from Haldimand County, where Ontario Provincial Police Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala has been killed in the line of duty. To his family, friends, and colleagues — the thoughts of all Canadians are with you."

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