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Who was Const. Grzegorz 'Greg' Pierzchala? OPP officer killed on day he completed his probationary period

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Const. Grzegorz "Greg" Pierzchala ​had just successfully completed his 10-month probationary period as an OPP officer when he was shot and killed Tuesday.

The 28-year-old rookie was told earlier that day about the good news before he went out for patrol..

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Pierzchala had wanted to be police officer since he was just five years old.

“[He] had a brief opportunity to live out his dream and to do his best to keep our community safe," Carrique told CTV News Toronto.

On Wednesday, Carrique paid tribute to Pierzchala, who he said was highly regarded and respected by his colleagues.

"They knew they could rely upon him in the most dangerous and stressful of situations. He was taken from us untimely by this tragic murder," Carrique said.

Insp. Phil Carter, the OPP Haldimand County detachment commander, also honoured Pierzchala on Wednesday, calling his death an "unimaginable and heartbreaking loss."

"The people of Haldimand County, Mississaugas of the Credit, Six Nations never got to see Greg's bright promise grow into the impressive and exemplary law enforcement career that seemed almost predestined. But we saw glimpses of that future before he was taking from us," Carter said.

Greg Pierzchala seen in this undated photo was shot and killed in a shooting near Hagersville, Ont. on Dec. 27, 2022. (Twitter/OPP)

Previously, Pierzchala served as a special constable at Queen’s Park and was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Before that, he was a competitive wrestler and competed in events during his time at York University and as a high school student in Barrie.

One of his high school teachers and former wrestling coaches, Anne Goorts, said Pierzchala had always focused on becoming an officer.

“I want my own son to be become like him,” Goorts told CTV News Barrie through tears. “You wish your own child could be that kind, considerate, hard-working and thoughtful.”

He was awarded senior athlete of the year by St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School after qualifying for OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) in swimming and wrestling and participating in soccer, track and field, weight training and rowing.

In a statement issued Wednesday by the Barrie high school, staff remembered him as an “inspiration and positive influence to all.”

“He approached his life with incredible determination, compassion and joy. It is not surprising that he followed a career path of service to others,” the statement read.

Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala was an all-star athlete in Barrie during his high-school years. Dec. 28, 2022 (Source: Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board)

Another one of his wrestling coaches, Nicholas Cryer of the Barrie-based Kempenfelt Bay Athletic Club, remembered Pierzchala as a “phenomenal athlete” with impeccable manners.

“He was super polite, always saying ‘sir’ or ‘madam.’ I can’t remember him ever losing his temper – he was just a nice, polite kid,” Cryer said.

Pierzchala was responding to a call about a vehicle in a ditch near Hagersville, Ont. shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when he was shot and killed.

When Pierzchala arrived at the scene in the area of Indian Line and Concession 14, he approached the vehicle and was shot at by two of its occupants, according to Carrique.

He was transported to hospital with life-threatening injuries where he was pronounced dead.

An Ontario Provincial Police officer enters West Haldimand General Hospital in Hagersville, Ont., after an OPP officer was shot and killed near the town on Tuesday, December 27, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nick Iwanyshyn

Two suspects were spotted fleeing the scene in a vehicle.

Police issued an alert for the pair in the aftermath of the shooting and advised residents to shelter in place as officers searched for them.

The suspects, identified as Randall McKenzie and Brandi Stewart-Sperry, are now in police custody and have both been charged with first-degree murder.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Siobhan Morris 

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