One of two suspects in the murder of Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala on Tuesday in Hagersville, Ont., was under a lifetime gun ban and charged last year with an assault against a policeman.
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Randall McKenzie, a 25-year-old man from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, had previously been banned from owning firearms for life during a run-in with the law in 2018. That didn't stop him from re-arrested in 2021 and facing multiple firearms charges, in addition to one count of assaulting a police officer.
The suspect charged with first degree murder remained on parole until last September, when he failed to appear in court to answer charges received in 2021. He was the subject of a warrant of arrest when he and his sidekick Brandi Stewart-Sperry, a 30-year-old Hamilton citizen, crossed paths with Constable Pierzchala.
Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique didn't mince words when providing the media update.
“I am outraged that McKenzie was on conditional release and that he thus had the opportunity to take the life of an innocent police officer”, was offended the big boss of the provincial police.
Mr. Carrique has called for changes to parole conditions so that suspects charged with violent or gun-related crimes remain behind bars.
Grzegorz Pierzchala was on his very first solo patrol when he was called to respond to a vehicle that had left the road and ended up in a ditch. He was targeted on his arrival by the suspects without having the slightest chance to defend himself, said the commissioner, referring to an "ambush".
The officer was wearing a body camera that will certainly help move the investigation forward, Carrique said, adding that the motives that prompted the suspects to open fire remain unclear.
The two suspects were apprehended shortly after the policeman's murder, without incident. They appeared on Wednesday to be formally charged and will return to court on January 17.
In addition, the agent's colleagues will pay tribute to him on Friday by parading on Highway 400, between Toronto and Barrie, starting at 9 a.m. The population is invited to stand on the viaducts that span the expressway to observe the convoy and pay homage to Grzegorz Pierzchala.