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Richard Kachkar, the man accused of murder in the snowplow death of a Toronto police officer made his first appearance before a packed courtroom on Jan. 21, 2011. (CTV News)
Richard Kachkar, the man accused of murder in the snowplow death of a Toronto police officer made his first appearance before a packed courtroom on Jan. 21, 2011. (CTV News)

Accused in Sgt. Ryan Russell's murder appears in court Add to ...

The man accused of killing a Toronto police officer with a stolen snowplow stepped into a packed courtroom with his head hung low.

It was the public’s first glimpse of the 44-year-old charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sergeant Ryan Russell.

With a bandage over his nose and his arm in a sling, Richard Kachkar looked slimmer than in photographs published last week. His blond hair remained closely cropped, but his gaunt face was unshaven.

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When asked if he was Richard Kachkar, his response was barely audible. “Yeah,” he said – the only words he would mutter during a brief court appearance on Friday morning.

Mr. Kachkar, who was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, also faces two charges of attempted murder.

Justice of the Peace Milan Then ruled to delay Mr. Kachkar’s bail hearing to Jan. 25 to give Mr. Kachkar time to find a lawyer.

An hour earlier and a kilometre away, the father of Sgt. Russell thanked officers and emergency personnel who had travelled from across Canada and the United States to attend his son’s funeral.

“To those of you who braved the winter weather, standing for hours in the funeral home, along the streets as our motorcade passed by, we did see you through our tears,” retired police officer Glenn Russell said. “It was your good wishes that gave us strength to get through this most difficult of times.”

On Tuesday, after a march of 12,000 emergency personnel, at least as many filed into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the funeral of a man most of them never knew.

Speaking at 52 Division, where Sgt. Russell had worked, Mr. Russell told the media that his son – the first Toronto officer to die in the line of duty since 2002 – had always been a proud cop.

Details about Mr. Kachkar, meanwhile, have steadily emerged.

The father of two went to school in Armenia more than two decades ago, studying architecture, said Detective-Sergeant Dan Nielsen, the homicide officer leading the investigation into Sgt. Russell’s death. He also trained as a tool-and-die maker in British Columbia, he added.

Mr. Kachkar worked a sales job for a now-defunct pharmaceutical company years ago, a job that required him to make regular trips across Canada and the United States, the detective said.

But officers are still trying to piece together Mr. Kachkar’s movements during the days leading up to the incident. On Thursday, Jan. 6, around 5:30 p.m., he briefly visited his wife in St. Catharines, Ont., and is believed to have bought a bus ticket for Toronto later that evening.

The next weekend, however, he was spotted in the Niagara Region. One friend said Mr. Kachkar dropped by his house on Saturday evening, seeming depressed and not talkative.

It’s not clear exactly when he travelled to Toronto or what he did before checking himself into the Good Shepherd shelter on Queen Street last Tuesday.

“He does know some people here, we don’t know who,” said Det.-Sgt. Nielsen. “We know that he’s been between the two cities.”

He said Mr. Kachkar also lived in homeless shelters in St. Catharines, but it’s not known where else he stayed in Toronto.

On Jan. 12, Mr. Kachkar is alleged to have stolen a snowplow at around 5 a.m. near Dundas and Parliament streets. The rampage that followed lasted for nearly two hours, ending around 7 a.m. when Mr. Kachkar was shot several times by police.

He was released from hospital earlier this week.

With reports from Adrian Morrow, Jill Mahoney and Arti Patel

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