Police have named the deceased officer as OPP Const. Grzegorz (Greg) Pierzchala, 28, who was shot and killed on Tuesday in Hagersville.
After the young officer was slain while responding to a complaint about a car in a ditch at the crossroads of Indian Line and Concession 14, west of Hagersville, police have taken two suspects into custody. According to sources, police were thereafter searching for suspects in a stolen pickup truck.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that I regretfully advise that #OPP Provincial Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala was killed today while courageously serving in the line of duty,” tweeted OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique. “Our hearts are with his loved ones and all OPP members at this tragic time.”
In a later news conference, the commish said of Pierzchala: “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.
“And unfortunately he paid the ultimate sacrifice today,” Carrique said, adding that Pierzchala was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The OPP had said officers were looking for Randall McKenzie, 25, described as Indigenous, 6-foot-2 and weighing154 pounds. Police also released the image of a female suspect, but did not provide further details about her identity.
West Haldimand OPP has taken the lead on the investigation into the shooting of the officer, who had one year on the job and only on Tuesday had passed his 10-month probation period and was able to patrol solo.According to sources, one witness, who described up to five shots fired, said the driver had tattoos on his upper body. Sources told the Toronto Sun that Pierzchala was shot in the chest and leg.
Police, meanwhile, had issued a shelter in place warning as officers conducted their search for the alleged killer. The OPP also offered a reward in the case.
“He was a wonderful officer, a phenomenal officer, and (had) just the biggest heart of gold you could ever imagine,” Const. Ed Sanchuk said of Pierzchala in a phone interview with CP.Shawn Geris, a Toronto Police officer who was Pierzchala’s wrestling coach at York University ten years ago, remembered the young student-athlete asking about the job and what it was like.
The two kept in touch with Pierzchala enthusiastically agreeing a couple of years ago to visit and help out with a wrestling club Geris runs for kids.
“He jumped at it. He said, ‘Yeah, sure coach!’ He still called me coach,” Geris said.
Geris had even hoped to be able to present him with his badge when he graduated from Ontario Police College, but COVID-19 restrictions prevented it.
“He wasn’t one to give up, either. He was tenacious in everything that he did.”
He said he got the news of Pierzchala’s death via a text while shopping and called it “devastating.”
“This was his dream job. This was what he wanted. And he knew the dangers of the job because I’d talked about that before with him,” Geris said.
“People as a police officer want to help and make the world a better place. Some people just don’t want that to happen.”
Tuesday’s fatal shooting was the latest in a year which has seen several officers lose their lives.