UPDATED AT 10:22 p.m. on May 13, 2023
One police officer is dead and two remain in hospital following in incident in Bourget early in the morning of Thursday, May 11.
Sergeant Eric Mueller, age 42, died as a result of the injuries in an Ottawa hospital.
At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Thomas Carrique said officers from the Russell County Detachment were called to a disturbance at a property on Laval Street/County Road 2 at the eastern edge of Bourget. A citizen heard a gunshot and notified police.
“Upon arrival, three of our officers were ambushed and shot,” Carrique said.
One of the other wounded officers, who is 35 years-old, had already treated and released from hospital as of Thursday afternoon and was recovering at home. The other officer, age 43, remained in hospital, undergoing treatment. Carrique said his condition was stable, but critical.
A 39-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene without further incident. Alain Bellefeuille of Bourget, has been charged with First Degree Murder, contrary to Section 235(1) and two counts of Attempted Murder, contrary to Section 239 (1) of the Criminal Code. The accused has been remanded in custody.
“Eric was an exemplary officer, a family man,” the Commissioner said of the deceased Sergeant.
Mueller had begun his OPP carrier 21 years ago as a Special Constable in Ottawa. He became a Constable in 2006 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2018. His colleagues described his as a coach and mentor.
“Our hearts are broken as we remember Eric. We stand beside his family and our attention is on the recovery of the officers who have been physically injured and emotionally impacted.
Carrique said there were no other injuries at the scene and the three officers all arrived at the home within minutes of each other.
Meanwhile, residents of Bourget are shocked by what happened in their usually quiet, friendly community. Some knew something bad had happened early in the morning when their sleep was disrupted.
Robin said she woke up after 3 a.m. sensing something dangerous had happened nearby. She locked the door and went back to bed.
“The lights (from police vehicles) woke me up, like I’m sure they woke up everybody in this town,” said a woman who works in the village’s grocery store.
A customer said her children had met Sergeant Mueller before and liked him.
Diane Berthelotte heard the noise just after 2 a.m.
“It woke me up,” she said.
Berthelotte moved to Bourget in the fall of 2022. She described the tragic situation as “too close to home.”
“It’s so sad,” commented resident Lynne Champagne who was cycling near police roadblock that had been set up near the scene.
“It’s quite the tragedy,” Champagne said.
“The poor families,” the cops and all, we don’t’ expect this sort of thing,” remarked resident Serge Marcil. He said Bourget is normally a
Local leaders react
Bourget is part of the City of Clarence-Rockland. On Thursday, Mayor Mario Zanth said he was dismayed to learn of what had happened in in the community.
“Sadly, today we mourn the loss of a serving officer. There are no words that can express the pain that the residents of the City of Clarence-Rockland are feeling at this time. I wish to offer my deepest condolences to the family and fellow officers,” Zanth said.
He wished a full, speedy recovery to the other two officers and announced flags at city hall are currently at half-mast as a mark of respect.
In Toronto on Thursday morning, Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) led by Glengarry-Prescott and Russell MPP Stéphane Sarrazin, observed a minute of silence in remembrance of Mueller in the Ontario legislature.
“It is heartbreaking to hear of this kind of situation happening in our riding. Our thoughts are with Sergeant Mueller and their family. I wish the two officers who were wounded a full recovery and send our thoughts to their families,” Sarrazin said.
United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) Warden Normand Riopel issued a statement of regional solidarity on Thursday. Flags at the UCPR Administrative Office in L’Orignal had been lowered to half mast.
“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Sergeant Mueller’s family, colleagues, and friends,
highlight the courage of the Police Officers involved in this event, and offer my full support to the residents of Bourget,” said Riopel,
“The community of Prescott and Russell is behind you at this very difficult time.”
Prime minister comments
In Ottawa on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to what happened in Bourget police
officers being killed in the line of duty is happening “far too often,” and “has to stop.”