The sky seemed to weep Monday morning, echoing the emotions outside the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment where a book of condolences was set up for the community to sign in memory of fallen Const. Rick O’Brien.
Ashleigh Daniels, a police officer with the Coquitlam RCMP, stopped by to sign the book and drop off a bouquet of flowers – adding to the growing memorial of bouquets, potted plants, cards, tributes, a Canadian flag, and a wreath with poppies.
“He was an amazing person,” said Daniels through tears. Daniels met O’Brien taking some courses with him through work. She talked about how passionate he was about working with youth in Maple Ridge.
She noted how important it was for her to represent her team and pay her respects to the Ridge Meadows RCMP.
O’Brien was died after being shot executing a search warrant in Coquitlam Friday morning, Sept. 22.
Another RCMP member was also shot and wounded, and a third officer was injured from a non-gunshot wound.
The book of condolences was put out for the community to sign after an outpouring of support for the RCMP.
Messages both in the book and on cards attached to floral arrangements in the memorial thanked O’Brien for his service, sending condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
“Thank you officer for your love, kindness, and sacrifice to protect the community. I live in Burnaby, but I can only come here to show my respect and appreciation. Least I can do is to say ‘thank you’ and ‘may you rest in peace’,” read one message signed by Libyan.
“Rest in Peace Brother. We will take it from here,” read another message in the book that was signed with love from the Coquitlam youth section.
Troy Beckingham, a longtime Maple Ridge resident, also stopped by to pay his respects.
He asked how do you make sense of an incident like this.
“You don’t. There’s no sense to be made. It’s sad,” he said.
In the House of Commons on Monday, Sept. 25, MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Ron McKinnon rose to honour Const. O’Brien.
“Mr. Speaker, It is with regret that I rise today in this place to honour RCMP Const. Rick O’Brien of the Ridge Meadows detachment,” the MP began.
“Words cannot ever encompass a tragedy like this,” he said.
“Nevertheless, on behalf of myself and my family, on behalf of all of the residents of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and indeed the whole of the Tri-Cities, and I daresay on behalf of all of us in this place, I would like to express my deepest sadness, and most profound condolences to Constable O’Brien’s wife, and children, and to his many friends and colleagues, all of whom will feel his absence forever. Maintiens le droit,” finished McKinnon, ending his statement with the RCMP motto: “Maintain the right.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his thoughts on social media: “Every day, police officers put their lives on the line. Today, an officer in Coquitlam lost their life. I’m sending my condolences to their family, friends, and @RCMPGRCPolice colleagues. And to the officers who were injured: I’m wishing you a fast and full recovery.”
B.C. Premier David Eby also shared his condolences: “People across B.C. are shocked by the dreadful news that Ridge Meadows RCMP Constable Rick O’Brien was killed while protecting Coquitlam residents this morning. Words cannot properly express our condolences to Constable O’Brien’s family and loved ones.”
Some of the most powerful messages at the memorial, lay within the flowers.
On one piece of paper addressed to O’Brien’s family was a letter written with the “upmost respect and gratitude for the sacrifice your husband and father gave.”
“I did not know your husband or father. He did not know me or my children. That would not have stopped him, if I called upon him to put his life at risk in protecting my family,” read the letter, noting that this quality, a willingness to help complete strangers, is what it means to be a great human being.
“Your father and husband did not die in vain,” the letter went on to say.
“Your husband and father died strengthening the bond complete strangers share in the belief of good. Your husband and father died protecting the moral fabric that makes us free,” adding that his sacrifice, “will not be forgotten by my family.”
The letter was signed, “love and gratitude from the countless number of citizens your father protected and was willing to protect.”
The book of condolences will be available to sign from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday, Sept. 29, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 2 and 3, outside the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment, at 11990 Haney Place in Maple Ridge.
Cpl. Julie Klaussner with the Ridge Meadows RCMP said arrangements are in the works for a regimental funeral, however she was unable to share further details by press deadline.