Over 200 Coast residents came out to support the Sunshine Coast RCMP and remember the fallen Moncton officers during a candlelight vigil held June 9 at the local detachment.
The vigil happened in advance of the June 10 regimental funeral held for constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Georges Gevaudan and Douglas James Larche, who were allegedly killed by gunman Justin Bourque in Moncton, New Brunswick, on June 4.
“There isn’t anyone in this detachment who doesn’t wish they could be at the service for these officers tomorrow,” Sunshine Coast RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Steve Chubey said on Monday.
“This [vigil] is a way that we, as a community and detachment, can honour these members, grieve with and support their families, friends and fellow officers.”
Officers came dressed in red serge while fire department members and paramedics donned their blues, and search and rescue members wore their uniforms in respect of the fallen officers.
Members of local government bodies and a contingent of Coast residents also came out to show support.
RCMP Chaplain Andrew Barker led the vigil that featured three officers holding candles in memory of the three constables who lost their lives.
“The goal of every member each and every shift is to finish well and to make it home. On June 4, three of our members did not succeed in their goal. Three of our family did not make it home,” Barker said.
“In light of this tragedy, ordinary words fall short and they fail us. Yet it is impossible to remain mute, so we gather together to speak as best we can and remember and support.”
He pointed to flowers strewn on the ground as a symbol.
“This is intentional. Inanimate objects of beauty and value have needlessly been wasted and destroyed. Their purpose has been cut short. Their potential has been lost,” Barker said.
“Three members, people of beauty and immensely more valuable than inanimate flowers, have needlessly been wasted and their lives destroyed. Their purposes have been cut short. Their potential lost. Their lives murdered. This leaves a wake of agony. We grieve their loss. We grieve for those they have left behind.”
Two minutes of silence were observed for each of the fallen officers before, one by one, the candles symbolizing their lives were blown out.
Staff Sgt. Herb Berdahl took the mike to note the local detachment has received many cards, condolences and bouquets of flowers from the public since the tragedy occurred.
“Many have been expressing sorrow and offering support as we all struggle to understand how something like this could happen,” Berdahl said.
“Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, 35, Const. David Ross, 32, Const. Douglas Larche, 40, were shot and killed while responding to a call of a man with a gun. They put themselves in harm’s way in the execution of their sworn duty. They gave their lives in service to their community and their country. They made the ultimate sacrifice.”
When guests were invited to speak, one man came forward on behalf of the paramedics, thanking officers for their efforts to make situations safe before other first responders attend calls.
“For that alone, we owe you a great debt of thanks,” he said.
Another citizen spoke about her experience with an off-duty officer who steered her away from taking a ride with a stranger one night as a youth.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I’d gone with that stranger. So I just want to say thank you for being there and for all that you do for us that we don’t often notice. But we want you to know that we appreciate you all the time,” she said.
At the end of the vigil, those in attendance were invited to sign a book of condolences that will be sent to the fallen officers’ detachment in New Brunswick.
© Copyright 2015 Coast Reporter