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‘Committed to doing the right thing’: Reaction pours in for fallen OPP police officer

Reaction continues to pour in for Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala, an Ontario Provincial Police officer who was killed in Hagersville, Ont., Tuesday night after stopping a vehicle that had been reported missing.

Pierzchala grew up in Barrie, Ont. Staff members from his former high school, St. Joan of Arc, are recounting their memories of the 28-year-old, who graduated from the school in 2012.

“In his four years at the school, he made an enduring and positive impact, and he is fondly remembered by all those who knew him,” says the statement released by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

Staff say Pierzchala was deeply involved in school life and “excelled” in a wide range of sports from swimming to wrestling. He achieved the ‘athlete of the year’ award after qualifying for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships. They add that he was a devoted Christian.

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“He was always thoughtful, considerate, kind and followed his heart — he was the kind of guy who was committed to doing the right thing,” staff said.

“It is not surprising that he followed a career path of service to others.”

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Pierzchala carried on his love for sports by joining the wrestling team at York University from 2012-2013. One of his former teammates, Mehrdad Pourkamali, tells Global News, “Greg was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He was the type of guy that everyone liked. He was a hard-working athlete and a smart student.”

Pourkamali adds the 28-year-old’s death is “truly heartbreaking. There was so much life left for him to experience. We all have been robbed of having a wonderful soul like Greg among us.”

York University’s President Rhonda Lenton tweeted she is “devastated to learn of the tragic news of the passing of York alum Provincial Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala, killed while courageously serving in the line of duty.”

After graduating from York University, Pierzchala served as a special constable at Queen’s Park.

He also served his country through the Canadian Armed Forces. The federal government tells Global News, “Our records show we do have a former member by the name of Grzegorz Pierzchala. He joined in February 2019, and released in Dec 2021. He was a Reserve member, who served as an Infantryman, and was a 2Lt at the time of his release. He had no deployments.”

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2 suspects arrested after OPP officer shot, killed in Hagersville, Ont.

Reaction is also continuing to pour in from Pierzchala’s hometown, Barrie. Mayor Alex Nuttall says “a lot of young people from our community know Greg from his time growing up,” and that “it’s devastating for folks as they hear this terrible news.”

Pierzchala is the third officer to be shot dead in Simcoe County within the past three months. South Simcoe Police Const. Devon Northrup and Const. Morgan Russell were killed in October after responding to a disturbance at a home.

“The reality is here in Barrie this is happening too often,” Nuttall told Global News. “This needs to stop happening.”

With four Ontario officers gunned down in the line of duty over the past four months, the Police Association of Ontario says it’s been a difficult time for their members.

“We’re mourning again. And once again we’re mourning the death of a police officer in this province that’s been murdered again at the hands of another person,” said PAO president Mark Baxter.

“It comes at a really difficult time as we’re preparing to end 2022 and we think that we’re going to put behind — we never forget — but as we try and look ahead to the future from what was a really difficult September and October and end of the year. And then now, here we are, between Christmas and New Year’s, facing another officer that’s been killed in the line of duty.”

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