A man accused of selling a gun to a 16-year-old boy who shot and killed two Edmonton police officers has been charged with manslaughter.
“If you put yourself in that situation and you sell a gun illegally, you ought to know what could happen,” Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart, with the police guns and gang unit, said Wednesday.
“This is one of those outcomes that is tragic.”
Police arrested 19-year-old Dennis Okeymow last week. He faces three counts of manslaughter for the deaths of the officers and the young shooter, identified in court records as Roman Shewchuk.
Const. Brett Ryan and Const. Travis Jordan were responding to a call about a family dispute at an apartment building on March 16 when Shewchuk gunned them down.
Police said the boy also shot and wounded his mother during a struggle over the gun.
He then shot and killed himself.
“A 16-year-old should never have been able to get his hands on a gun, and it’s heartbreaking that the trafficking of this rifle to this youth has led to multiple deaths and life-altering injuries,” Stewart said.
Manslaughter charges in a firearm trafficking case are unique, Stewart said, and police obtained good evidence to support them. He said the charges were not laid just because officers were victims.
The semi-automatic .22-calibre rifle was lawfully purchased in Edmonton at some point, Stewart said. Police are still investigating the firearm’s subsequent movements, but Stewart said investigators have a pretty good idea how it ended up in Okeymow’s possession.
The court records allege Okeymow manufactured or transferred the rifle without authorization between Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.
Okeymow also faces several other offences, including criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Police said the shooter’s mother is healing physically but has lasting psychological pain and suffering.
The gun recovered from the scene was linked to another shooting at a nearby Pizza Hut a few days earlier. A 55-year-old man who was shot at the restaurant suffered traumatic injuries, police said, and he is still suffering psychologically.
Police said it’s believed Shewchuk was also the restaurant shooter.
Police added there was no apparent motive for why the boy shot the officers and no evidence that he had planned the killings. He had no prior criminal record or outstanding warrants, and police had visited the apartment before.
Shewchuk was apprehended last year under the Mental Health Act and taken to a hospital for assessment.
The day of the deadly shooting, his mother had called police and she met the officers outside the building and escorted them to the family’s suite.
The officers didn’t get past the door before they were shot at multiple times.
Police said at the time that investigators believed the two officers, police dispatch and the boy’s family were unaware there was a gun in the home.
A regimental funeral held for Ryan and Jordan was attended by thousands of officers from across Canada and the United States.
Ryan, 30, a former paramedic, lived just west of Edmonton in Spruce Grove, Alta. Family said he was expecting his first child with his wife.
Jordan, 35, who grew up in Nova Scotia, was remembered as a kind officer who went above and beyond in his job.
Nicole Chapdelaine, acting deputy chief, said members of the force continue to grieve.
“The deaths of our fellow members will have far-reaching impacts that will take time to heal.”
– With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon