One day after the shooting death of RCMP Const. Rick O’Brien in Coquitlam, B.C., a murder charge has been laid.
Nicholas Bellemare, a 25-year-old Coquitlam man, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder with a firearm.
The Lower Mainland’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team announced the charge in a news release Saturday afternoon.
IHIT is leading the investigation into the shooting of O’Brien and second RCMP officer who was wounded during an altercation in Coquitlam around 10 a.m. Friday.
The officers were executing a search warrant related to a drug investigation originating in Maple Ridge, IHIT said.
A third officer was also injured during the incident. The two wounded officers were taken to hospital and have since been released, according to police.
The suspect was also shot and wounded during the incident, and the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has been called to investigate the actions of police.
First-degree murder is the charge applied to all killings of peace officers under the Criminal Code, regardless of whether the accused’s actions were premeditated.
Bellemare remains in custody. Online court records indicate his next appearance is scheduled for Oct. 3.
O’Brien’s death has shocked and saddened the law enforcement community in B.C. and around the country. It comes less than a year after the on-duty death of Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang, and just two days before the annual gathering at the B.C. Law Enforcement Memorial in Victoria to honour fallen officers.
Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, the commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, said Friday that police were “gutted” by the news.
“He was truly exceptional – a hard-worker and a good human being,” said Supt. Wendy Mehat, the officer in charge of the Ridge Meadows detachment, where O’Brien spent all seven years of his RCMP career.
“His death is senseless and heart-breaking.”
Condolences also poured in from provincial and federal officials, including Premier David Eby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In his organization’s statement Saturday, IHIT officer-in-charge Supt. Mandeep Mooker added his sympathies.
“This is a profound loss and I understand it will have a lasting effect on Const. O’Brien’s family, friends, colleagues and the community,” said Mooker. “We wish to send our sincere condolences to everyone impacted by this tragic event.”