Emotional farewell for slain Quebec police officer Thierry LeRoux
Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 26, 2016 6:41AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 26, 2016 5:00PM EST
SAGUENAY, Que. -- Thierry LeRoux's family and friends bid an emotional farewell to the slain Quebec police officer Friday, remembering him as a loving man who always saw the best in people.
LeRoux, 26, was just six months into his career in the Lac-Simon police force when he was shot Feb. 13 as he and another officer responded to a domestic call.
Hundreds of officers from Quebec and parts of Canada and the United States attended his funeral Friday, with his widow, brother and father among those who spoke about him fondly.
"You never saw bad in anybody," his father, Michel, told the service in the Chicoutimi Cathedral in Saguenay, 250 kilometres north of Quebec City.
"You would tell me, 'Get to know people and you will see there is good in all of them.' What wisdom!
"Thierry, I already miss your clowning around at meals, your contagious smile and your beautiful blue eyes. To you, my man, my champion, my hero. I love you."
After completing a police technology degree, LeRoux graduated from Quebec's police academy in November 2013 -- excelling in sports and physical conditioning.
Investigators have said officers did not return fire on the fatal night in Lac-Simon, a small Algonquin reserve in northwestern Quebec.
Anthony Raymond Papatie, 22, the man identified by police as the shooter, was found dead, inside the home, of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
LeRoux's widow, Joannie Vaillancourt, struggled at times as she addressed the funeral service, which lasted about two hours.
'This is an incredibly difficult day because I am forced to say goodbye to you," Vaillancourt said. "You are, and will be forever, the great love of my life.
"We had a beautiful future all mapped out....We were supposed to have children, grow old together and watch our grandchildren grow up. Today, I'm having trouble breathing."
Vaillancourt said she and LeRoux had to overcome many obstacles, including being far apart geographically at times as he pursued his police career.
"You were, and still are, a great man," she said, her voice cracking. "If everyone had just one ounce of your personality, your courage, your savoir faire, the world would be a better place."
LeRoux's brother, Steffan, also delivered an emotionally powerful tribute.
"I will no longer be able to protect you, as we had promised we would, because you have left us far too early," he said. "But I will continue to serve and protect our family. Every morning, I will put on your bulletproof vest, your belt, your boots and your cap to look after our family.
"I have always spoken about you with so much passion and pride and I will continue to do that until it is time for my number to be retired. When that day comes, you better come and greet me and we will be able to write the second chapter of our life.
"I only have one request: send me a sign from time to time, a little gesture, anything, just to tell me, 'I'm there, brother."'
With files from Donald McKenzie in Montreal