'It's a sad day for Toronto'

City mourns the death of police officer Ryan Russell who was killed trying to stop a stolen snowplow

Sergeant Ryan Russell’s death has hit Toronto hard.

“It’s a sad day for Toronto,” said Pam Chandler who lives and works on Avenue Road near where Russell was killed trying to apprehend a man driving a stolen snowplow. “I can’t believe I didn’t hear a thing.”

After Russell’s death Police Chief Bill Blair was at the hospital to offer comfort and condolences to the family of the fallen officer.

“I had the very difficult responsibility of telling his young wife and mother of his young son that he had died in the line of duty and that he had made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his city,” Blair told a press conference.

Mayor Rob Ford also held a press conference at which he praised Russell for his sacrifice.

“Sergeant Russell died this morning while on duty acting to protect the people of this great city,” Ford said. “His bravery and service to the City of Toronto will never be forgotten.”

According to police the man who struck and killed the officer stole a snowplow in the area of Dundas and Parliament Street before driving it through town damaging several parked vehicles.

After hitting Russell the suspect continued to flee before being apprehended by members of the Emergency Task Force on Keele Avenue near Humberside Drive.

It has been reported that the suspect sustained multiple gunshot wounds fired by police before being taken into custody. Blair said he was unable to confirm that fact due to an ongoing investigation by the province’s Special Investigations Unit.

The Town Crier spoke to one bystander who saw part of the police pursuit. Brendan Fernie says he was headed to school when he saw a snowplow turn a corner and start heading up Keele Avenue.

“I didn’t know what was going on initially and then I saw the armoured police truck following the snowplow as well as a number of police cars behind the armored truck,” Fernie said. “Then I saw a cop who was mounted on top of the armored truck with a rifle fire one shot at the snowplow.”

As of the time of the press conference, no charges had been laid on the suspect who is currently in custody. However, Blair said the homicide squad is investigating.

Russell was an 11 year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in August after serving on the guns and gangs taskforce.

This is the first time since 2002 that a Toronto police officer has been killed in the line of duty.

Those with information on this incident are urged to contact police or call 1-800-222-TIPS.

Funeral and visitation information is available here.

[align=right]— With files from Francis Crescia and Kris Scheuer

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Jan 12 2011 8:36 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto