The RCMP officer who was killed on duty in Burnaby, B.C., Tuesday has been identified as Const. Shaelyn Yang, a member of the local detachment’s mental health and homeless outreach team.
Speaking at an emotional news conference hours after the tragedy, the head of the Burnaby RCMP described Yang as a valued member who embraced the challenges involved in working on her specialized unit.
“She was compassionate and caring, and she brought those skills every day to her job working with our community’s most vulnerable,” said Chief Supt. Graham De La Gorgendiere, who at times struggled to maintain his composure.
De La Gorgendiere described the incident that cost Yang her life as senseless and tragic, and said delivering the news of her death was “probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my career.”
Officials said Yang and a Burnaby bylaw officer were called to Broadview Park on Tuesday morning, and were engaged with someone camping in a tent when an altercation erupted.
Yang was stabbed, and succumbed to her injuries after being rushed to hospital. She was 31.
“She answered the call to duty today and she paid the ultimate price,” said Deputy Comm. Dwayne McDonald, commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP. “Her loss is immeasurable.”
The constable was a “loving wife, a sister and a daughter,” McDonald added.
A suspect was also shot during the altercation, and remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon with injuries that officials said were not life-threatening.
The RCMP provided few details about what took place in the park, citing an active investigation by B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, as well as a parallel investigation by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Despite some early media reports of a “homeless encampment” at Broadview Park, authorities confirmed there was only a single tent.
Yang began her policing career in Richmond, where she lived, before graduating as a police officer in 2019. She joined the Burnaby RCMP the same year, and remained there until her death.
CONDOLENCES POUR IN
Late Tuesday afternoon, flags at the detachment and at the provincial legislature were lowered to half-mast out of respect for the fallen officer.
Speaking to reporters shortly after receiving news of Yang’s death, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth described the situation as “tragic and horrific.”
“Every day, we ask thousands of men and women in uniform in this province to do their duty, keeping our community safe, keeping the public safe, knowing full well that it’s an extremely dangerous job,” Farnworth said, his voice shaking.
“This is the worst news that anyone wants to hear.”
As word spread, messages of support began flooding in from across the province and country, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“My thoughts are with the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen officer – I am keeping you in my thoughts during this terrible time,” he said on Twitter.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the death “an unimaginable loss” and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said he was “heartbroken.”
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