Murder charges have been filed against two people who were arrested after an Ontario Provincial Police officer was gunned down near Hagersville.
Court documents show 25-year-old Randall McKenzie and 30-year-old Brandi Crystal Lyn Stewart-Sperry each face one count of first-degree murder.
Police say Constable Grzegorz “Greg” Pierzchala was shot Tuesday afternoon while responding to a vehicle in a ditch just west of the community.
The 28-year-old officer had just yesterday passed his 10-month probation period.
Pierzchala had roots in Barrie and graduated from St. Joan of Arc high school in 2012.
The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying that Greg had made ‘an enduring and positive impact’ in his four years at the school, and he is fondly remembered by all those who knew him.
“He was very involved in school life – excelling in academics and athletics, and even achieved senior athlete of the year after qualifying for OFSAA in swimming and wrestling and participating in soccer, track and field, weight training and rowing. Greg exemplified Christian leadership in all aspects of his life and faithfully attended Mass at Holy Spirit Parish. He was always thoughtful, considerate, kind and followed his heart – he was the kind of guy who was committed to doing the right thing,” the statement said. “Greg was an inspiration and positive influence to all, even as a young high school student, because he approached his life with incredible determination, compassion and joy. It is not surprising that he followed a career path of service to others.”
“The St. Joan of Arc community and all of those he knew him will miss him greatly, but the legacy he left will not be forgotten. As a community, we will continue to pray for Greg’s family that they may find some comfort and peace during this difficult time.”
Spencer Lalonde of Submission Arts Academy in Barrie, where Pierzchala trained for more than two years, was rocked by his death.
“Greg was an amazing young man who loved his community and loved serving his community,” Lalonde told Barrie 360. “He was always positive, always smiling, always respectful and we will miss him dearly.”
Lalonde is putting together a fundraiser at the gym, though details are still coming together.
“We will raise funds for whatever charity his family thinks he would want us to donate to,” he noted.
Haldimand County Mayor Shelley Ann Bentley calls the officer’s death heartbreaking and disturbing.
She says the incident has been very upsetting for the community.
Commissioner Thomas Carrique says Pierzchala was previously a special constable at Queen’s Park and as a boy, had dreamt of joining the police ranks.
Banner image: Members of the Ontario Provincial Police close off a section of road near Hagersville, Ont., where an OPP officer was shot and killed on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nick Iwanyshyn