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Thousands to pay tribute to OPP officer killed on the job in Bourget, Ont. shooting

OTTAWA — Police officers, dignitaries, family and friends will pay tribute to Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Eric Mueller Thursday at the 10th funeral for a police officer killed on the job in Canada in the last eight months.

Last week, Mueller and two other officers were shot after they approached a house at 2 a.m. in the small town of Bourget, outside of Ottawa, after neighbours complained about the sound of gunshots.

Mueller died later that day in an Ottawa hospital, while the other two officers survived with injuries. One of them remains in serious but stable condition.

The OPP expects thousands of people to line highway overpasses to pay their respects as Mueller’s body is transported from a funeral home in the nearby community of Rockland to the West End of Ottawa, where he will be celebrated and mourned at a ceremony in the Canadian Tire Centre.

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OPP officers and other police service members plan to march from a nearby detachment to the arena to honour the funeral procession as it passes by.

Click to play video: '‘This has to stop’: OPP officer murdered in line of duty'

‘This has to stop’: OPP officer murdered in line of duty

Shortly after Mueller’s death, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique told reporters he was an exemplary officer, a coach and a mentor.

He was also a husband and the father of a one-year-old daughter and son who is nine months old.

“He was a big guy,” OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson said outside the Canadian Tire Centre Thursday morning.

“Everybody looked up to him, but that’s not just because of his stature. That’s because of the person he was.”

Mueller joined the OPP in 2002 as a special constable responsible for transporting offenders in Ottawa. He was officially hired as a recruit in 2006 and was promoted to sergeant 2018.

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He was recognized for his bravery in 2015 with the Commissioner’s Citation for Lifesaving after helping to lift a burning vehicle to rescue an injured suspect.

Mueller’s detachment in Russell County is finding the loss particularly difficult to cope with, Dickson said.

“Russell County detachment was such a family operation, like they’re so, so close. I can’t imagine how they are going to come back from this in a hurry,” he said.

“It’s going to be a long recovery for all of them.”

Click to play video: 'OPP commissioner remembers life of Sgt. Eric Mueller, officer shot dead near Ottawa'

OPP commissioner remembers life of Sgt. Eric Mueller, officer shot dead near Ottawa

Mueller is the 10th police officer to be killed on the job in Canada since September 2022, and the fifth to be fatally shot in Ontario during the same time period.

Dickson called the string of police deaths disturbing.

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“For the most part, they set out to protect members of the public. They set out to serve the communities where we are, and for a police officer to then be ambushed or killed for doing their job, it’s just not right,” he said.

OPP have repeatedly described the incident that led to Mueller’s death as an ambush, but have not provided any further details about what happened after he and his fellow officers arrived at the house.

Alain Bellefeuille, a 39-year-old Bourget resident, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in the case. He’s expected to appear in court on Thursday afternoon in L’Orignal, Ont., about an hour east of Ottawa.

The Special Investigations Unit, which operates as a police watchdog, is investigating after the OPP’s forensic team discovered evidence that one of the surviving officers shot his gun at some point after they arrived on scene.

The funeral service is expected to be closed to the public, but will be streamed live online.

The OPP has also arranged the play the service live at a community centre in Bourget, where Mueller was killed, and plans to set out a book of condolences for local residents to sign.

Messages of sympathy have poured in to the OPP since news of Mueller’s death reached the public last week.

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In online posts, mourners describe shock and sadness at the death of yet another police officer in the line of duty, while others share their thanks for his service and sacrifice.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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