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Two officers were killed in the line of duty: Const. Brett Ryan, 30, who had been with the service for more than five years, and Const. Travis Jordan, 35, a veteran of more than eight years with the Edmonton force.Edmonton Police Service/Supplied

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee was grim as he announced what he described as an unthinkable and horrific tragedy on Thursday, after the death of two city officers in an early morning shooting.

“I can’t tell you how devastated we are with their loss,” said Chief McFee, flanked by police and city officials in the atrium of Edmonton Police Service headquarters. Dozens of officers gathered sombrely along the upper levels of the atrium, listening as the chief announced the shooting, and other speakers offered condolences.

Chief McFee identified the two constables as Travis Jordan, 35, and Brett Ryan, 30. Constable Jordan had been with the service for more than eight years, and Constable Ryan for over five. Chief McFee said the shooter died from what is believed to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

A police source said Thursday evening that the suspect was 16 years old, and also shot and wounded his mother.

Speaking at the news conference Thursday morning, Chief McFee said the officers were responding to a domestic dispute call just before 1 a.m., when they were shot outside an apartment suite in the city’s northwest. He said preliminary reports indicate the police officers did not discharge their firearms. The two men were rushed to hospital by other officers, who, the chief said “worked valiantly to save their lives.”

“Unfortunately, they were both declared deceased at the hospital,” the chief said.

The young male shooter has not been named. Chief McFee said a woman who is related to the young man was also taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, and described her as being in serious but stable condition.

Chief McFee said the investigation is in its early stages, and that more information would be released as soon as possible.

“We ask for your patience and understanding for our members and the multiple families impacted by today’s incidents,” he said. “Please give space to our officers who are mourning their colleagues.”

The chief said there was no further risk to the community, and did not take questions.

Outside, flags hung at half-mast and two red roses were wrapped tightly to a pole in twinkling blue ribbon.

Two buildings in a modest west Edmonton apartment complex remained cordoned off with yellow police tape on Thursday afternoon. In one building, a window had been blown out of the back door, with shards of glass scattered on the doorstep. A large area around the building had been contained, and a mobile police command centre and forensics unit were parked nearby. Residents peered from windows and balconies at the scene.

An outpouring of condolences flooded social media, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and the Calgary Police Service.

“Every day, police officers put themselves in harm’s way to keep people safe,” Mr. Trudeau said, in a message posted on Twitter. “The news that two Edmonton police officers have been killed in the line of duty reminds us of that reality. I’m sending my condolences to the officers’ loved ones and colleagues – we’re here for you.”

Ms. Smith offered condolences from the provincial government, saying in a statement that: “Alberta would not be the great province it is today without the support of the courageous men and women who patrol our streets every day to keep our communities protected.”

Darcy Carter, referee-in-chief with the Spruce Grove Minor Hockey Association, said the quick thinking that Constable Ryan used in his policing career, and as a paramedic before that, translated well on the rink. He said his friend first donned the black-and-white stripes as a 15-year-old and, 15 years later, was one of the most reliable referees in the association.

He said Constable Ryan’s eyes lit up when he talked about his career in policing, and that the pair would often go out after reffing, “talking about games and life.”

“It’s just the way he was wired: to help people,” he said. In late January, while they were officiating a game together, Constable Ryan said he and his wife were expecting their first child.

Constable Jordan, who hails from small-town Nova Scotia and leaves behind a wife, went viral on social media three years ago when a commuter posted about him pulling her over after a heavy spring snowfall. Instead of a ticket for not clearing her windshield, the officer brought out his own brush and cheerfully did it for her.

Jessica Shmigelsky, the Edmonton driver, remembered the officer in a social media post as being calm and kind, likening his presence to a big brother.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi expressed his condolences to the service members alongside Alberta Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis and others during the morning news conference.

“Today is a very difficult and sad day. Every single day, police officers put their lives at risk to help protect the public. Every day, families of the police officers send their loved ones off to duty, to work and hope they return home safely. This did not happen today,” said Mr. Sohi.

“We hold you in our hearts as you mourn this profound loss and we mourn it with you.”

Mr. Ellis, a former Calgary police officer, said the sudden and tragic deaths serve as a reminder for how dangerous the profession can be. “There’s really no words that I can express other than deep sympathy and loss that every one of us here are experiencing here today.”

Police services in Vancouver, the Greater Toronto Area and Halifax were also among those expressing condolences.

“This is a tragic loss and one that is shared among law enforcement including our team,” Calgary deputy police chief Chad Tawfik wrote on Twitter. “We are here to offer our support to [Edmonton Police] as well during a devastating time.”

The men are the sixth and seventh police officers killed in the line of duty in Canada since September.

The last officer to be killed on duty in Edmonton was Constable Daniel Woodall, a 35-year-old father of two, who was shot and killed while delivering an arrest warrant for criminal harassment in June, 2015. Another officer was seriously injured. More than 50 shots were fired by Norman Raddatz, 42, who was under investigation for anti-Semitic hate crimes. He was later found dead in his burning home, having killed his dog and himself.

In January that year, another police officer was shot and killed in nearby St. Albert, north of Edmonton, and an auxiliary constable wounded. RCMP Constable David Wynn, a 42-year-old father of three, died at a casino after being shot in the head by Shawn Maxwell Rehn, a prolific offender who was out on bail at the time. He shot himself before he could be apprehended. The killing of Constable Wynn prompted a review of the justice system’s handling of repeat offenders.

With a file from The Canadian Press.

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