‘A huge loss to the OPP family’: Force mourns officer shot dead in southern Ontario

The officer was shot after he responded to a report of a vehicle in a ditch

Files from Barrie 360

Hagersville

A 28-year-old Ontario Provincial Police officer who was fatally shot while on duty Tuesday afternoon was remembered by the force as having “the biggest heart of gold.”

The OPP said Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala was shot while responding to a vehicle in a ditch west of Hagersville, Ont., in Haldimand County, just after 2:30 p.m., and died in hospital.

OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk said Pierzchala, who worked with the Haldimand County detachment, had been an officer with the provincial police force for just over a year.

“I’m never at a loss of words and I’m truly at a loss for words today,” Sanchuk said at a news conference.

“He was a wonderful officer, a phenomenal officer, and (had) just the biggest heart of gold you could ever imagine,” Sanchuk said in a phone interview later Tuesday. “It’s an extreme loss to our (OPP) family and we’re assisting the family and our officers as we deal with this traumatic loss.”

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique offered his condolences with a post to Twitter.

The OPP said two suspects were arrested but did not say whether any charges had been laid or provide further details about them.

Sanchuk said a male and a female were in custody and police were not looking for further suspects.

At 5:45 p.m., hours after the shooting, provincial police issued an emergency alert advising all area residents to remain in place after two suspects were seen fleeing the scene of the shooting, saying one of them was believed to be armed.

Sanchuk said the alert was cancelled shortly after, when the suspects were arrested.

Pierzchala is the fourth police officer to be shot dead in the province since September.

Ontario Provincial Police Association president John Cerasuolo said Pierzchala’s death underscores the danger police officers put themselves in daily.

“They do a dangerous job 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year throughout the province of Ontario. This situation demonstrates that there is no such thing as a routine call in policing,” he said in a statement.

“Greg’s service and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” said Cerasuolo. “He will always be remembered as Hero in Life, Not Death. Our members go to work every day to serve and protect the citizens of Ontario.

Haldimand County Mayor Shelley Bentley said in a statement the municipality’s “hearts go out to the officer’s family, his OPP colleagues, and all first responders impacted by this horrific event.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a tweet that he was “horrified by the killing of an on-duty OPP officer”

“Our first responders are true heroes. We share in the pain felt by family, friends and the entire police community as Ontario mourns this loss,” Ford said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the news of Pierzchala’s death “heartbreaking.”

“To his family, friends, and colleagues — the thoughts of all Canadians are with you,” Trudeau said in a tweet.

Police have asked anyone with information to contact Haldimand County OPP or Crime Stoppers.

Banner image: Ontario Provincial Police Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2022.

– By Jessica Smith in Toronto

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