EDMONTON — Two police officers killed in the line of duty were honoured Monday at a regimental funeral with tears and tales of off-key crooning, birdies and beers, laughs and contagious joy.
Thousands of officers gathered with family members to say a formal goodbye to Edmonton police Const. Travis Jordan, 35, and Const. Brett Ryan, 30, at Rogers Place arena, the home area of the Edmonton Oilers.
“I’ll remember his smile, his wheezy laugh — we’ve been told we laugh the exact same way. I will always remember how excited he was when Brett found out he was going to be a dad, and I know that is one memory I will never lose,” Ryan’s pregnant widow, Ashley, said in her eulogy.
“You will live on in baby Ryan and they will know every last detail about how special you were to so many people and, most importantly, to me. I love you forever. I’ll miss you always.”
Jordan’s widow, Annie, stood silently beside police chaplain Roy Langer as he read her parting words.
“We didn’t have one hard day in 11 years,” she said through Langer.
“The world was really ours. We had already started leaving our mark in some many different places.”
The officers were shot at multiple times while responding to a family dispute on March 16. Police said the shooter, 16, then shot and wounded his mother during a struggle for the gun, before shooting and killing himself.
Jordan was remembered by colleagues as a valued officer of almost nine years, working to join the tactical squad. He came to Edmonton from Nova Scotia so he could realize his childhood dream of becoming an officer.
Sgt. Perry Getzinger and Sgt. Chris Gallahger remembered Jordan, or T.J., as a “great dog dad” to canines Teddy and B.J.
They recalled an excellent, ultracompetitive golfer who will live on in happy memories of lost balls and fairway trash talk from their “Birdies and Beers” golf trip.
Brodie Sampson, a childhood friend, said people who knew Jordan "were able to experience (his) kindness, contagious joy and unparalleled positivity even in the face of hardships."
“(It) gets us through these hard times now,” he added.
Ryan, born in Edmonton, had more than five years’ service with the force after working as a paramedic.
Ashley Ryan recalled life with the man with “a crooked little grin,” who got up in the morning to have coffee and read the news in his fuzzy slippers, “because he was such an old man at heart.”
Her husband, she said, loved skydiving, baseball and their dogs, even the one who chewed up their couch.
Garett Ryan said his older brother loved trips to Las Vegas and Mexico, eating donairs and Baconator burgers. He remembered driving around with his brother, windows down belting out Kenny Chesney country music songs.
“I often called him my big little brother because that’s how much I looked up to him."
The caskets were brought to Rogers Place in two hearses that inched their way through the downtown from the legislature under bright sun amid chill winds. They were followed by officers from across the country.
They marched eight abreast, arms swinging amid the pipes and drums of interspersed marching bands while onlookers lined the streets. Some held up placards with painted blue hearts, others placed their right hands over their hearts.
“We’re here to support all of the first responders but in particular our son, who is a police officer with Calgary Police Services,” said Jim Funk, who attended the procession with wife, Chris.
“We feel so sad, especially for the families of the two officers, but that extends out to the whole first responder family nationwide.”
Said Chris Funk: “It’s probably the worst nightmare families can experience."
Two caskets, each draped in a Canadian flag, were carried into the arena on the shoulders of Edmonton police pallbearers.
The service was not open to the public but was livestreamed and broadcast outdoors at the Ice Plaza next to Rogers Place.
Dozens shivered in the cold to watch, including 15-year-old Charlie Dennis, whose father is an Edmonton officer.
"It's nice to know that there are people around that would care and would show up," she said.
Police continue to investigate the circumstances of the shooting and have said the same gun was used days earlier at a nearby Pizza Hut, leaving a man injured.
Police had also been called to the teen shooter's home in November, apprehending him under the Mental Health Act before taking him to hospital for an assessment.
The day of the shooting, the boy's mother called saying she was having trouble with her son. Police said there was no indication he had a gun or that the officers were walking into a high-risk or dangerous situation.
There have been 10 officers killed in the line of duty in Edmonton.
The most recent previous death was of Const. Daniel Woodall, who was shot in 2015 trying to enter the house of a suspect wanted for criminal harassment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.
— With files from Dean Bennett
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Ritika Dubey and Angela Amato, The Canadian Press