Investigators comb through Ontario village a day after shooting kills OPP officer
Mueller is the fifth police officer to be fatally shot in Ontario since September
By Laura Osman in Bourget
Investigators combed through a property in a small village east of Ottawa on Friday as police looked to gather more information on a shooting that left one officer dead and two others injured a day earlier.
Sgt. Eric Mueller, of Ontario Provincial Police, died in hospital following the early Thursday shooting at a home in Bourget, Ont. The 42-year-old and two other officers had been responding to a disturbance call, police have said.
Alain Bellefeuille, a 39-year-old Bourget resident, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in the case. He’s expected to appear in court on Thursday in nearby L’Orignal, Ont.
In Bourget, police vehicles were parked Friday near the home where the shooting took place and officers went to and from the property. Police barricades remained in place in some areas and officers were seen going door-to-door.
Veronique Poirier-Larabie had set up a small bunch of colourful flowers outside her home, with Mueller’s name written on a window above. She said his car had been left outside her residence the day before.
“I did not know this officer but he does deserve to be remembered,” said Poirier-Larabie, who moved to Bourget a month ago from Ottawa in search of a quiet community.
“It touched me,” she said of the tragedy. “I did cry.”
Poirier-Larabie said the shooting had resulted in several members of the small village checking in on one another as they processed what happened.
“You don’t expect this to happen,” she said. “This actually brought us probably a little closer.”
Poirier-Larabie and several other residents said they did not know the man charged in the case.
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique has said Bellefeuille’s history would be closely mined for clues. Police have said they found a long gun at the scene of Thursday’s shooting.
A members-only shooting range west of Bourget said it had no record of Bellefeuille in their member database or of him having attended the facility.
Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General said they had not found previous criminal court files under Bellefeuille’s name.
Police alleged the three OPP officers who were shot on Thursday were “ambushed” when they arrived at the home in Bourget. The officers had called for backup before they approached the residence, police said.
One injured officer was still in hospital in stable condition on Thursday while the other had been released. Police did not provide an update on the condition of the officer in hospital on Friday.
Mueller, remembered as a mentor and dedicated 21-year-veteran of the OPP, was previously injured on the job, court records show.
He underwent three operations and months of rehabilitation for a broken leg after he was crushed into the side of his cruiser by a tractor-trailer unit during an arrest gone wrong in April 2008.
The driver, wanted by police for failing to appear in court, attempted to flee when Mueller and other OPP officers stopped him on a highway exit ramp, according to a 2010 ruling in the driver’s case.
Mueller is the fifth police officer to be fatally shot in Ontario since September.
A book of condolences for Mueller will be available to sign this weekend at the Bourget Community Centre and the city hall in Rockland, the seat of the local municipality.
-with files from Jordan Omstead in Toronto
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023