sad, sad news for the morning…

no, I don’t know any of the men involved – but for those of us who grew up in a relatively violent-free Canada that still prides itself on how much we ain’t like the US, it’s ‘orrible.

4 Mounties slain in drug raid

ROCHFORT BRIDGE, Alta. (CP) – His voice tight with grim self-control, Alberta’s commanding RCMP officer groped for a way Thursday to describe a catastrophic drug raid that left four young officers lying dead in a quonset hut.

“I’m told you have to go back to about 1885 in RCMP history and the Northwest Rebellion to have a loss of this magnitude,” said assistant commissioner Bill Sweeney. “It’s devastating. We’re all in terrible shock and mourning.” Also killed was the man believed to have shot the officers, a 46-year-old loner.

The peace of this gently rolling farm country near the hamlet of Rochfort Bridge in northwestern Alberta was shattered Thursday morning in the tragic culmination of an investigation into stolen property and a marijuana grow-op.

RCMP Cpl. Wayne Oakes said the operation began Wednesday afternoon, when officers from the local Mayerthorpe detachment placed the farmyard just north of the community under surveillance.

Two officers remained at the farm overnight. Thursday morning they were joined by backup.

Although the occupant of the farm had not been there overnight, at some point he had returned.

At about 9:15 a.m., four officers walked on to the property and entered a large metal quonset hut. They were wearing soft body armour and carrying handguns.

“They were not going into a potential armed conflict,” said Oakes. “They were guarding a scene.”

Suddenly, two officers from the RCMP auto theft unit who had just arrived heard gunfire in the hut. The male suspect came out and fired at them, then retreated back inside.

The auto theft officers took cover and returned fire.

After the shots died down, none of the police on the property responded to their radios.

Emergency response teams from Calgary and Edmonton were called to the scene. The Edmonton Police Service’s helicopter was called, as were three armoured vehicles from the Canadian Forces’ Edmonton Garrison.

Finally, at about 2:20 p.m., an RCMP team burst into the quonset to confirm their worst fears: four dead officers – “brave, young officers,” said Sweeney – and a fifth dead man.

A government source told The Canadian Press the suspect, who was armed with a high-powered rifle, killed himself after shooting the officers.

“He just cut them down,” the source said.

IOakes said the suspect was known to police, although he wouldn’t confirm if he had a criminal record.

While police have yet to release the name of the suspect, several media are reporting the man as Jim Roszko, 46.

His father, William Roszko, 80, said RCMP called him earlier Thursday to ask him questions about his estranged son.

“I don’t like this. I hate it. I don’t want to have Jim as my son. It is a great shame what he has been doing.”

He told the Winnipeg Free Press he “felt terrible … he is a wicked devil.”

The father said Jim got out of jail a year or two ago.

“He was keeping company with bad boys, dope and what not, and ended up in jail,” Roszko said.

Roszko said he son was a good man before he became involved in drugs.

“He had the capability to do well when he wasn’t on dope. But that crazy dope, it is what spoiled him.”

People in Rochfort Bridge also said the shooting happened at the farm of Jim Roszko.

“He’s dangerous,” said one woman, who didn’t want to give her name. “You don’t want to go on his land. He’ll shoot you.”

“He does what he wants, when he wants, and doesn’t care about anybody else,” said another. “I was told to stay away from him.”

The deaths of the four officers – three from Mayerthorpe, one from nearby Whitecourt – rocked law enforcement officials and politicians across the country.

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said she will consider tougher penalties for grow operations in the proposed marijuana decriminalization bill.

Prime Minister Paul Martin called it an act of “brutality” and offered his condolences to the families of the slain officers.

RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli called it “an unprecedented and unspeakable loss.”

None of the officer’s names have been released until family members were notified. Family members are being afforded whatever support the RCMP can provide, said Oakes.

The deaths may be what it finally takes to get the Canadian public to take the dangers of marijuana grow operations seriously, said a Calgary police officer.

“There is some apathy out there, and unfortunately maybe it takes incidents like this to wake people up,” said Staff Sgt. Birnie Smith of the Southern Alberta Marijuana Investigative Team.

“It’s a danger to everyone.”

The last time more than one police officer was killed on duty was on June 18, 1962 in Kamloops, B.C. Three RCMP officers – E. J. Keck, D. G. Weigerber and G.E. Pedersen were shot in Peterson Creek Park by a mentally disturbed man. The man, George Booth, was later shot by RCMP officer Jack White.
and no matter how much we Canadians may want to believe we’re barely related to our friends across the border this shows that we can be just as vicious as any NYC thug or LA psycho.


send your best thoughts to the friends and families of these Mounties, if you please…


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