White ribbons dotted the procession route in St. Albert on Monday as thousands of residents in this suburb north of Edmonton came out to wave a final goodbye to the RCMP constable who died serving the community.
Mona Wynn said on Monday that her brother David Wynn was a Maritime prankster with a love of Red Rose tea who devoted his life to his family and serving the public – first as a paramedic in Nova Scotia, then as an RCMP officer on Canada's prairie.
"Dave was an ordinary man with an extraordinary capacity to make the world a better place for everyone around him," she said.
More than 7,000 local residents and police officers from across North America crowded into St. Albert's hockey arena to attend to the fallen Mountie's regimental funeral. As his family wept, Constable Wynn was remembered as "the finest example of a front-line police officer," said Inspector Kevin Murray of the St. Albert RCMP.
The constable's final hours of duty paint the portrait of the man's dedication to service.
It began just after midnight during a sleepy shift on Jan. 17 when Constable Wynn began checking licence plates in the parking lot of a casino near Edmonton's ring road. One of the plates didn't match that of the large pickup truck it was on. The truck was so tall that Constable Wynn needed to go inside the casino to get a stool to look at the identification number on the dashboard. He soon learned that the truck had been stolen.
The 42-year-old father of three then went inside to review security footage. Joined by auxiliary Constable Derek Bond, the duo soon spotted a suspect on the security tapes. They began walking the casino floor and found Shawn Rehn.
A career criminal, Mr. Rehn had a number of warrants out for his arrest. One had been issued only days earlier. Mr. Rehn ran and fired on both constables with a handgun he had concealed. Constable Bond was injured but will recover. Constable Wynn was struck in the head and never regained consciousness. He died four days later.
Mr. Rehn killed himself hours later. Alberta's Attorney-General has ordered a review of the justice system's dealings with the criminal, who made bail numerous times despite a pattern of flouting police and the courts.
"It's been said that we shouldn't pray to be sheltered from danger but rather to be fearless when confronting it. Dave was fearless," said RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.
A sea of Mounties wearing traditional red serge uniforms and Sam Browne belts took to the streets of St. Albert on Monday. To the sound of bagpipes they walked along with a riderless horse, a pair of brown riding boots turned backward in the stirrups.
"After that initial shock the support has been phenomenal. With the crowds and the white bows, today will certainly help," said Sylvia Krentz, a local resident who signed her grandson out of school to attend the procession.
Ms. Krentz's son works with the St. Albert RCMP. Near her, a massive Canadian flag was hung from the ladder of a local fire truck.
"Dave would want us to make a contribution to the world around us; he did that with his choice of profession," Ms. Wynn said during her eulogy of her brother.
Still in his first posting with the RCMP, Constable Wynn also served as a liaison officer with the Keenooshayo Elementary School. On Monday, students from the school wore white bows and black T-shirts as they sang, "we can make a difference."
Along with the police officers from across the country at the funeral were a few officers from Bridgewater, N.S., where Constable Wynn served as a paramedic from 1996 to 2009. Two of his former colleagues sang a song to the audience, which included Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.
A native of New Brunswick, Constable Wynn enjoyed fly-fishing on the Miramichi River. His widow, Shelly MacInnis-Wynn, said she and her three boys would camp and fly-fish on a trip back east as they had planned to do with their father.