PEI family devastated by Moncton shooting

The wife of one of the slain RCMP officers has family living in Victoria, P.E.I.

Dave Stewart
Published on June 7, 2014

This photo of Const. Dave Ross and his wife on their wedding day was circulating on Twitter Friday.

©Submitted photo

Catherine Visser’s nightmare began when the phone rang at 7 a.m. Thursday.

“It was one of the most horrible situations I have ever been through,’’ Visser said in an interview with The Guardian on Friday.

The Victoria resident knew that RCMP officers had been shot the night before in Moncton but she hoped — she prayed — that Const. Dave Ross was not one of them.

Visser’s niece Rachael is married to Ross, who was one of three officers killed by a man who had been spotted by Moncton residents toting two rifles and a crossbow.

“I cried a lot yesterday and I still cry when I look at some of the (family) pictures,’’ Visser said.

Visser and her husband, Dr. Hendrick Visser, drove over to Moncton Friday afternoon to be with Rachael and the family.

Ross leaves behind a 19-month-old son, Austin, and Rachael is pregnant with a baby due in September.

“Rachael is much like the daughter that I don’t have and she’s much like a sister to our sons. We have a very close connection.’’

Catherine and Hendrick Visser both recently celebrated their 60th birthdays. The entire family, including Dave and Rachael, travelled to the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia to celebrate the milestone.

While they were there, Rachael continued to talk about plans for the young couple to vacation in P.E.I. this summer. Both had been to P.E.I. before. Dave Ross was a K-9 officer and had trained in P.E.I. in the past. But Dave and Rachael had never been to the province together as a couple.

“They were planning to come over this summer to visit. They’ve both been over individually lots but not as a couple. He loved P.E.I. and they were looking forward to coming. Rachael really wanted to get over here together with him this summer.

“I had offered them a night of looking after little Austin and they could have a night out and then we’d do a night of something together. That was in the plans.’’

As a dog handler, Catherine Visser said Ross was always prepared to get the call to come into work. On Wednesday night, his phone rang.

Visser said Ross raced to the scene where a man toting rifles had been spotted. Ross was shot twice through the window in his vehicle before he had a chance to act.

“He didn’t get a chance to get out. He never got out of the vehicle.’’

Visser said Ross was a very dedicated RCMP officer who loved his job and his dogs and loved to hunt in his off time. Ross and his wife had had many conversations about the dangers associated with police work and they both knew that at any time, something might happen.

“Yet he went to work every day thinking that was never going to happen to him and his wife said he’s always very careful,’’ Visser says, her voice trailing off. “These things still can happen.

“He was very dedicated to his work and his family. He was just a wonderful, all around guy. You couldn’t have asked for a better officer, a better family man.’’

Visser said it’s hard to describe how much Ross loved his wife.

“He said very recently after their fourth (wedding) anniversary ‘I couldn’t be any happier’.’’

Visser still hadn’t talked to Rachael yet but planned to when they drove over on Friday.

Visser had been communicating with family since receiving that fateful call Thursday morning.

Some of Rachael’s words were echoing through the family.

“(Rachael said) ‘the community, the Moncton community, the RCMP community, the hospital community . . . everyone has been very supportive . . . but it doesn’t bring back my husband.’’