Published March 28, 2023

Provincial police officer killed during attempted arrest northeast of Montreal

Sgt. Maureen Breau had more than 20 years of experience

By Sidhartha Banerjee in Louiseville

A Quebec provincial police officer was killed and a male suspect was shot dead by police during an arrest attempt at a home in the province's Mauricie region Monday night.

The police force confirmed in a news release Tuesday the death of Sgt. Maureen Breau, an officer with more than 20 years of experience. 

The province's police watchdog said Breau was stabbed while the suspect was being read his rights.

The 35-year-old suspect, whose identity has not been released, was later shot and killed by other officers who arrived on the scene in Louiseville, Que., about 100 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

Another officer was wounded in the altercation but is expected to recover.

Police had cordoned off the area around the white three-storey building on Tuesday morning, and both Quebec's police watchdog and Montreal police had mobile command posts set up. Crime scene technicians were snapping photos of the exterior of the building, which appeared to be mixed commercial and residential use.

Quebec provincial police Chief Inspector Patrice Cardinal said Breau was in her early 40s and had two children. Her partner is also a provincial police officer, he said.

Her two decades of police work were mostly spent on patrol, or supervising patrol teams, he said in a phone interview.

"She had a lot of experience, for every kind of event or police intervention," he said. 

Johanne Beausoleil, the provincial police chief, offered her condolences to Breau's husband, children, other family members and colleagues.

"It is with immense sadness that I learned of Sgt. Breau's death," Beausoleil said in the news release. "An ordeal like this reminds us of the danger police officers face in extreme situations like those confronted by Sgt. Breau, her fellow officers and the emergency telecommunications operators who supported them during the intervention."

Breau's sister, reached on Facebook, said the family was asking for privacy. "My big sister will always be my hero," she wrote in a message.

Quebec's police watchdog said Breau and another officer were arresting the man at about 8:30 p.m. for uttering threats when he grabbed a knife and stabbed Breau.

The watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, said another pair of officers arrived shortly afterwards, and one of them fatally shot the suspect. It says it has assigned five investigators to the case, and they will be aided by Montreal police officers.

Cardinal said the force was offering support to Breau's family, the other responding officers and other staff who are affected. He also thanked the public and other police forces for the hundreds of messages of support that have poured in from across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded on Twitter to the death, which he described as "heartbreaking."

"I’m sending my condolences to Sgt. Maureen Breau’s family, friends, and (provincial police) colleagues — and I’m wishing a fast and full recovery to the officer who was injured," he wrote.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also expressed condolences to the family and to police, suggesting such violent events were happening more frequently.

"Obviously our hearts go out to the family and to all police officers who collectively mourn this incredible and, unfortunately, more common loss," he said.

Banner image: Police tape cordons off the scene after a Quebec provincial police officer was killed while trying to arrest a man in Louiseville, Que., Tuesday, March 28, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.

— With files from Morgan Lowrie in Montreal.

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