© THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel
Jennifer MacLeod and her daughter, MacKenzie, watch intently as a memorial service for the three Moncton RCMP officers killed in the line of duty is broadcast on a large television screen inside Memorial Hall at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown on Tuesday. People gathered at the centre to comfort each other, as they said goodbye to the officers who they had never met.
For some it was respect for three lives laid down in the service of their community.
For others it was admiration for the willingness of three officers to put themselves in harm’s way when all around were taking shelter.
For whatever their reason, more than 100 people came together at Confederation Centre’s Memorial Hall Tuesday to observe the broadcast of the regimental funeral for three RCMP officers slain last week in Moncton.
They sat quietly, observing the service with the same degree of respect they would have shown had they been in Moncton.
A number were clearly moved by the images that flashed across the screen of the families, the officers and of one lone service dog K9 dog Danny whose partner RCMP Const. David Ross was killed at the hands of a gunman last week.
Retired RCMP officer Paul Stetson was among those who gathered to watch the service on two large TV screens.
Stetson said it was important for him to be there for Const. Douglas James Larche, Const. Dave Joseph Ross and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan.
“Having spent 31 years with the RCMP and having lived through times when members were lost it is important to show your support for the families and to support the RCMP,” Stetson said. “They’re doing a wonderful job out there and they need the support and the respect of the community.”
Another man, who did not wish to be named, said as a Canadian he felt it was imperative to express his sympathy and his gratitude for three courageous officers killed in the line of duty.
“They laid down their lives to protect people like me and you, people who, for the most part, they did not even know, but still believed must be protected from harm.”
Attorney General Janice Sherry said all Canadians owed a deep debt of gratitude to the three fallen officers.
She said the terrible tragedy of their deaths serve as a reminder to us all that lives can be cut off in an instant and the lives of loved ones can change dramatically in a minute.
She urged Islanders to keep the fallen officers in their minds and in their hearts and to keep the memory of these valiant officers alive.
Jessie Inman, CEO of Confederation Centre of the Arts, said she, like so many others, was deeply touched by the loss of these three officers.
“All of us feel the impact of what happened,” Inman said.
She observed that many who came to the centre to watch the service have friends or family who wear the uniform of a police officer.
Inman, who has a nephew serving in the RCMP, said it was impossible to think of this tragedy without becoming emotional, without thinking about the impact of these tragic deathson the families, friends and fellow officers of those who fell and on their communities.