Tributes, tears at regimental funeral for fallen Mounties who made 'ultimate sacrifice'
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014 6:09AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014 6:50PM EDT
The brother of an RCMP officer slain last week in Moncton, N.B., told mourners at an emotional regimental funeral service Tuesday that he was struggling with the loss of his “best friend,” and wished he could tell him “just one more time that I love him.”
Speaking before thousands at Moncton Coliseum, Daniel Larche said he thought of his brother, Doug Larche, as “invincible.”
"Doug chose to serve. He loved being a police officer and the people of Moncton were lucky to have him in their community," said Daniel Larche, a master seaman in the Royal Canadian Navy. "He was not only my brother, but my best friend."
Police officers, residents and family members filled the 7,000-seat stadium for a three-hour service that honoured the lives of Larche, 40, and Constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, and Dave Joseph Ross, 32. The three men were killed in the line of duty last week.
Daniel Larche told mourners never “in his worst nightmare” did he envision delivering a eulogy for his brother. A married father of three young daughters, Doug Larche was in the “prime of his life,” his brother said.
“I want him back so badly so that I can tell him just one more time that I love him and that I am proud of the great man that he has become,” Daniel Larche said, his voice shaking with emotion.
It was one of several tributes to honour the fallen officers, whose flag-draped caskets were carried into the stadium one-by-one following a 1.6-kilometre procession in Moncton. Among the marchers who followed the hearses were members of the RCMP and municipal police forces, correctional officers and U.S. border patrol officers.
At the beginning of the service, the officers’ Stetsons and holstered weapons were laid on top of their caskets. Large portraits of the fallen officers in their uniforms were also on display.
The family of David Ross told the crowd he was a man of integrity who put his all into everything he did. His passion for dogs led him to police work as a dog-services handler. Danny, a police dog that served with Ross, stood by his master’s casket during the service.
Ross, a married father of one, was looking forward to becoming a father again, as his wife is six months pregnant with their second child.
In a eulogy, Ross's brother-in-law, Adrian Vander Ploeg, recalled how Ross was making dinner when reports of a gunman came in last Wednesday. He dropped everything -- leaving the barbecue lid up and the garage door open -- in order to respond.
"For those closest to Dave, that barbecue left still open says everything about who Dave was and his devotion to those around him," Vander Ploeg said.
Const. Fabrice Gevaudan was remembered for his smile, compassion, empathy and quick wit. Originally from France, Gevaudan had called New Brunswick home for more than six years, and was described as a doting husband and stepfather.
“Fabrice lived a heart-centred life a life of joy and happiness, a life where he connected to the community in which he lived,” Geoffrey McLatchie, Gevaudan’s friend and spiritual adviser, told the mourners. "He was very comfortable in his own skin and he was his own man."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, also paid tribute to the three officers, telling the crowd of mourners that “the grief is shared by all Canadians from coast to coast.”
Harper said a “searing grief” rippled throughout New Brunswick as “we struggle for answers.”
“We ask what in God's name happened here and why. We may never know,” Harper said, calling what happened to the fallen officers and the community an “outrage.”
In another emotional tribute, Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, commanding officer of the RCMP for New Brunswick, honoured the fallen officers, as well as Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen, two officers who were wounded in the shootings.
"With the eyes of the nation upon us today, I want to publicly say how incredibly proud I am of each and every one of you," he told the officers in the crowd.
Choking back tears, Brown added that he wished that “I could have told Doug, Dave and Fabrice that in person.”
Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, and several premiers also attended the services.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who spoke briefly, said Canada won’t forget the “ultimate sacrifice” made by the fallen officers.
"I am proud of them, and Canada as a whole is grateful,” he said.
Gevaudan, Larche and Ross were shot last Wednesday evening after responding to reports of a man with firearms in a residential neighbourhood in north Moncton. The shootings prompted a massive manhunt and lockdown that ended 30 hours later following the arrest a 24-year-old Moncton man.
Justin Bourque has been charged with three charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He is scheduled to be in provincial court July 3.
With files from The Canadian Press