RCMP say an officer who died Wednesday was being proactive in a stolen truck investigation when he and another officer were shot inside a casino.
Const. David Matthew Wynn should be remembered as a great police officer and citizen, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand told reporters after it was announced that the 42-year-old had died in hospital.
Degrand said Wynn was taking the initiative during the slow early morning hours last Saturday, checking out vehicle licence plates in the parking lot of the Apex Casino in St. Albert, a bedroom community north of Edmonton.
A search revealed a plate didn’t match the heavy-duty pickup truck it was on, but Wynn “didn’t leave it at that,” said Degrand.
Unable to see the vehicle identification number on the dashboard of the tall truck, Wynn “actually went into the casino, retrieved a chair and went back outside.”
He climbed on the chair to record the number, then discovered the truck was stolen.
Degrand said two other officers had joined Wynn outside to help Const. Derek Bond, an auxiliary officer, then went inside the casino with Wynn to review security video footage.
The pair found a suspect on the video and, as they were walking through the casino, spotted the man and went to speak with him.
It was “a random crossing of paths,” said Degrand.
“They have very brief words. The suspect then immediately bolted on them.”
Wynn and Bond chased down the man, unaware he was armed, said Degrand.
“This individual, as he’s running away, reached into his beltline and produced a (hidden) handgun, which would not in any way have been visible to our officers as they were behind him.”
The suspect immediately turned and fired, Degrand said. The first shot struck Bond in the right arm and torso.
Wynn then had a very brief moment of contact with the suspect, but a second bullet struck him in the head. The suspect then ran off.
Wynn wasn’t able to return fire.
Shawn Rehn, a career criminal wanted on warrants, was found dead in an apparent suicide later in the day at an acreage home not far from the casino.
Bond was released from hospital later that day, but Wynn never regained consciousness.
He is survived by his wife, Shelly, and three sons Matthew, Nathan and Alexander.
Wynn served as a paramedic in Bridgewater, N.S., before he became a Mountie in 2009 and was posted to St. Albert.
Besides his regular duties, he had been a resource officer at Keenooshayo Elementary School for five years. His main duty was to provide drug education for Grade 6 students, but he was frequently in the school speaking with students and parents, and appeared annually in red serge for the Remembrance Day assembly.
Deputy RCMP Commissioner Marianne Ryan issued a statement saying the force has lost a dedicated member in the line of duty.
“His wife lost a husband, and his sons lost a father. Words cannot express the deep sadness we feel today,” Ryan said.
Mounties say there will be a regimental funeral for Wynn in the Edmonton area.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed condolences on behalf of all Canadians.
“This was a brazen and cowardly assault on our brave law enforcement officers,” Harper said in a statement. “It is a grim reminder of how law officers in communities across the country put their lives on the line every day to protect Canadians from harm.
“We mourn with all RCMP members today.”