Man charged with first degree murder in death of B.C. RCMP officer
Chuck Chiang, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 23, 2023 4:22PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 23, 2023 8:19PM EDT
A 25-year-old Coquitlam, B.C., man has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of RCMP officer Rick O'Brien.
Police allege Nicholas Bellemare fatally shot the Ridge Meadows RCMP constable on Friday in Coquitlam during a drug investigation originating in Maple Ridge, B.C.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows RCMP detachments issued a joint statement saying Mounties were executing a warrant when an altercation began between Bellemare and police at around 10 a.m.
Police said O'Brien and another officer were shot during the altercation and a third officer also sustained unspecified injuries.
O'Brien died at the scene, while the two other wounded officers were treated at hospital and have since been released.
“This is a profound loss and I understand it will have a lasting effect on Const. O'Brien's family, friends, colleagues and the community,” said Mandeep Mooker, officer in charge of the integrated homicide team, in a written statement.
Bellemare, who police say was also shot and wounded in the altercation, has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder and attempted murder with a firearm.
O'Brien's death in Coquitlam comes less than a year after another RCMP officer, Const. Shaelyn Yang, was stabbed to death while accompanying a city worker to a campsite used by homeless residents in a Burnaby, B.C.
The latest tragedy has reverberated with law enforcement officials across the country.
Kevin Halwa, chair of the National Police Federation's Benevolent Foundation, has said calling the mood in the law enforcement community sombre “would be an understatement.”
Halwa said the tragedy was a powerful reminder of the risks police officers take on in their daily work once they “step up to serve.”
Condolences from a number of law enforcement officials and agencies have poured in on social media, including federal Justice Minister Arif Virani, the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police and Alberta Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis.
A GoFundMe campaign for O'Brien's family has raised more than $55,000 since launch, surpassing its original goal of raising $50,000.
Halwa said the funds cannot come close to replacing O'Brien's loss, but the Benevolent Foundation is hoping to take on as much of the financial pressures facing the family in the wake of his death.
“If we can take even just an ounce of pressure off of that family and Rick's loved ones, then that's why we're here,” Halwa said.
O'Brien, who had a wife and children, worked with at-risk youth before joining the RCMP and spent his entire policing career at the Ridge Meadows detachment.
He was decorated for bravery in the rescue of victims during a home invasion within months of joining the RCMP in 2016.
Halwa said he hopes the tragedy reminds the public of the individuals behind the badge.
“You know, they are the mothers and fathers, the soccer coaches, and they're doing their damn best to do what they can to make the world better,” he said. “Their hearts are all in the right place to make the world better.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2023.