2 accused in shooting of OPP officer near Brantford charged with

Two people accused of killing a provincial police officer near Brantford, Ont., were formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, a day after the shooting.

Randall McKenzie, 25, and Brandi Stewart-Sperry, 30, who have been in custody since their arrest, appeared at the Ontario Court of Justice in Cayuga via video link and are scheduled for their next hearing on Jan. 17. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer who was fatally shot while responding to a call Tuesday was “essentially ambushed,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique in a news conference.

Police said 28-year-old Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala responded to a call for a vehicle in a ditch just west of Hagersville, Ont., on Tuesday afternoon and was shot dead when he got there.

Carrique said Pierzchala was at the scene for a very short period of time and stood “absolutely no chance of being able to defend himself.”

He says the ongoing police investigation into the shooting is examining the motive and circumstances behind it.

Carrique alleges the suspects robbed a citizen of their vehicle at the scene after the officer was shot.

Pierzchala was killed the same day he learned he had passed his 10-month probation period and was granted the ability to patrol independently, according to Carrique.

Pierzchala had been in Armed Forces

Before that, the “exemplary” police officer served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“This is a man who, at five years old, decided he wanted to be a police officer,” said Carrique. “He had a brief opportunity to live out his dream … unfortunately, he paid the ultimate sacrifice.” 

WATCH | Two charged in fatal shooting of OPP officer

2 accused in shooting of OPP officer near Brantford charged with

2 charged in fatal shooting of OPP officer

A man and a woman have been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of OPP Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala.

Carrique said Pierzchala was patrolling independently at the time he was “tragically killed.” The officer was previously a special constable at Queen’s Park and had been with the provincial police force for just over a year, Carrique said. 

Previous warrant for McKenzie’s arrest

McKenzie has been prohibited for life since 2018 from possessing any firearm, said Carrique.

Carrique also said McKenzie was charged in 2021 with several firearm-related offences and assaulting a peace officer.

McKenzie was later released on bail on a number of conditions which included “to remain in his residence and not to possess any firearms amongst other restrictive conditions,” added Carrique.

McKenzie failed to appear in court in response to those charges on Sept. 6, said Carrique. A warrant was then issued for his arrest and additional criminal charges were laid against McKenzie, added Carrique. 

McKenzie’s family offer condolences

The relationship between Stewart-Sperry and McKenzie has not been publicly confirmed.

In a written statement to The Canadian Press, McKenzie’s family expressed their condolences to Pierzchala’s family. 

“We wish them healing and peace,” the statement said. 

They said McKenzie had some challenges growing up, got into the wrong crowd in high school and began abusing drugs at a young age. 

“Everyone is having a difficult time processing this and is extremely hurt.” 

Ontario community grieves

WATCH | Ontario community ‘deeply grieving’ over killing of OPP constable:

2 accused in shooting of OPP officer near Brantford charged with

Ontario community ‘deeply grieving’ over killing of OPP constable

Haldimand County Mayor Shelley Ann Bentley says there’s great sorrow over the shooting death of OPP Const. Greg Pierzchala.

On Wednesday, police cars were parked near the scene where the shooting happened, with the road closed for about a kilometre in either direction.

Harold Sheldrick, who lives close to the scene, said he was surprised to hear about the fatal shooting in the “peaceful” town of about 3,000 people south of Hamilton.

“Sure, there is crime just like anywhere but, I mean, out here it is the first time I have heard someone getting shot and killed,” said Sheldrick, who said he has lived in town for about a year.

“A lot of these families know each other, so I am kind of surprised something would escalate this far out here.”

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police close off a section of road near Hagersville, Ont., where an OPP officer was shot and killed on Tuesday, December 27, 2022.
Members of the provincial police close off a section of road near Hagersville, Ont., where an OPP officer was shot and killed on Tuesday. (Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press)

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By The Canadian Press

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