From anger and sadness over the senseless killings, to pride and a reaffirmed resolve to keep people safe, Cpl. John Power ran the gamut of emotions as he attended the funeral for three slain RCMP officers in Moncton Tuesday.
Power, an officer stationed at the Corner Brook detachment, was among the 19 RCMP officers who represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the ceremony to remember constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Douglas James Larche and Dave Joseph Ross.
The three were shot by a lone gunman, who wounded two other RCMP officers before an intensive manhunt resulted in him being taken into custody last week.
“It was gut-wrenching, it really was,” Power said moments after leaving the memorial, which was held at the Moncton Coliseum.
Around 7,000 people, mostly police officers and first responders from across the country, joined the grieving families and a selection of dignitaries for the funeral.
“It was amazing and, at the same time, it was very sad, as you can imagine,” reflected Power.
A police officer for 20 years, Power served seven years in Moncton before coming to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2000.
The hardest part for Power was to see the reactions of the families of the three officers. Like them, the Moncton region will need a lot more time to come to terms with what happened.
“You feel the sadness of the families, but you also feel the anger and the rage that one individual could ruin so many lives in a completely senseless act that has no reason behind it,” said Power, adding that those sentiments were echoed by those who spoke at the funeral.
If there are any lessons to be learned from the tragedy, Power hopes they are positive ones.
“This has done nothing but strengthen my resolve to continue within the RCMP,” said Power. “I have a renewed sense of pride. You don’t think about it on a daily basis, but something like this really drives home what we do and how we do it.”
Like the tragedy in Mayerthorpe, Alta. — where four RCMP officers were gunned down in 2005 — the sting of losing the officers in Moncton will take a long time to dull and likely will never go away.
Power will be back in Corner Brook to resume his duties Thursday. He hopes it never happens anywhere again, but he knows if this could happen in Moncton, or Mayerthorpe, then it could happen anywhere.
“That’s unfortunate, but that’s the society we live in in this day and age,” he said. “I personally think our values system seems to be degrading somewhat and it has really created some of these issues that have been coming forward recently. There is good and bad in every society. Unfortunately, it had to reveal itself in this way.”