Police lay murder charge in peace officer's death
Published Saturday, August 11, 2012 3:40PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 11, 2012 9:34PM EDT
Police have charged a man with first-degree murder in connection with the mysterious death of an Alberta peace officer, who was dropped off at a Calgary police station in medical distress and died shortly after.
Police say that Rod Lazenby, a retired RCMP officer, was called to Tangled Spur Ranch in Priddis on Friday morning. Police said Lazenby went to the ranch for an animal-related call.
What happened to Lazenby at the ranch is not clear, but police said he was driven to the District 8 police station in medical distress and was pronounced dead upon arriving at Rockyview Hospital.
Police have charged 46-year-old Trevor Kloschinsky with first-degree murder in connection with Lazenby’s death. Kloschinsky lived at the ranch, located approximately 40 kilometres southwest of Calgary.
CTV Calgary reported Saturday that the owner of the ranch said Kloschinsky rented space at his facility to raise Blue Heeler dogs. The owner said Kloschinsky has had previous confrontations with peace officers, including Lazenby.
Lazenby served as a Foothills Municipal District community peace officer for more than three years. Peace officers carry batons and pepper spray, but they don’t carry guns.
Lazenby retired from the RCMP in 2006.
Police would not say who drove Lazenby to the police station, but they did take a male into custody at the same time the officer arrived at hospital.
The RCMP is working with local police to investigate the death of the ex-Mountie.
“We do know the peace officer had been in the residences nearby in this area at the time prior to him being transported to District 8,” RCMP Sgt. Patricia Neely told reporters on Friday. “We have engaged our RCMP major crimes unit and we are working co-operatively with the other police services to determine exactly what occurred to this peace officer.”
On Saturday, Insp. Garrett Woolsey of the RCMP’s major crimes unit called Lazenby’s death “the ultimate tragedy” in the law-enforcement community, an incident that began with a dog complaint.
“It’s an emotional time for everyone in the police community across Alberta,” Woolsey said.
Woolsey also said a first-degree murder charge is automatic when a peace officer is killed.
Police said that officers have been called to the ranch in the past for reports of dogs on the property. The local humane society said Saturday it expects to move the 34 dogs that were found at the ranch, possibly on Monday. They will be cared for at the facility until then.
Alberta Solicitor General Jonathan Denis released a statement on Friday extending his condolences.
"Tragedies such as this remind us all of the selfless acts peace and police officers make to protect our safety each and every day. On behalf of all Albertans, I want to recognize Mr. Lazenby for his service and assure his loved ones that his sacrifice will never be forgotten."
Calgarypolice Chief Rick Hanson also expressed sympathy, saying that Lazenby would not be forgotten by his colleagues in law enforcement.
"This tragedy serves as a reminder that officers put their lives on the line every day," said Hanson. "There is no such thing as a safe call and every situation can present unforeseen dangers."
According to The Canadian Press, in 2002 Lazenby was part of an elaborate sting operation in Ottawa where officers posed as Italian mobsters to try and get a suspect to confess to murder.
In news reports covering the trial, Lazenby described in court how he portrayed Rod Calabria, the ruthless head of an organized crime group, by faking an Italian accent and pretending to lead a lavish lifestyle.
An autopsy to determine the cause of death will be performed Monday.
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Kevin Fleming and files from The Canadian Press