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'The ultimate sacrifice:' Thousands gather to remember fallen OPP officer


Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Eric Mueller was a gentle giant, beloved mentor and exemplary police officer, those who know him said. But above all, he was a dedicated and loving family man.

Mueller's family and friends, dignitaries and thousands of police officers gathered at the Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday to remember Sgt. Mueller, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last week.

"Above all, Eric lived to protect those he cared for the most. And although the manner of it was so senseless, we try to take solace in knowing he died doing what he loved," said Chris Wood, Mueller's brother-in-law, who spoke on behalf of his family.

Mueller, 42, was killed in the line of duty one week ago when responding to a disturbance call in Bourget, Ont., east of Ottawa. Two other officers were injured, one of whom remains in hospital.

Mueller is survived by his wife and two young children, a 21-month-old daughter and eight-month-old son.

"Eric made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, on our province's behalf and we will be forever grateful," Premier Doug Ford said.

"While Eric's death was so tragic, so unfair, I pray that his legacy of courage, dedication and selflessness will live on in his children."

Ford added that attacks against police officers "will never, ever be tolerated in this province.

"As premier, I will do whatever it takes to protect you and the communities you serve."

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.

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.

Solicitor General Michael Kerzner and Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell also spoke at the service.

"We are here to uphold his memory. We are here for one another, especially for Eric's fellow officers who are still recovering, and most of all for his loving family," Dowdeswell said. "Ontarians mourn alongside you."Police officers marching outside the Canadian Tire Centre before Sgt. Eric Mueller's funeral. (Natalie van Rooy/CTV News Ottawa)


OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Mueller brought out the best in everyone he worked with.

"He put people first: their safely, their well-being and their development, with a special gift to communicate and make meaningful connections," he said. "Eric's legacy will stand the test of time as an inspiration for all of us to challenge ourselves to do and be better," he said.

Carrique also decried the recent spate of violence against police officers in Canada.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.

"We need to ask ourselves: if our police officers, the very ones we rely upon for our safety and security, are not safe, then who is?" Carrique said,

"This pattern of violence being perpetrated against the police is not my glorious and free Canada."


A procession carrying Sgt. Mueller's body arrived at the Canadian Tire Centre just before 10 a.m. after departing from a Rockland, Ont. funeral home earlier Thursday morning.

The funeral procession left Rockland around 8:45 a.m. and travelled westbound on Highway 17 to Hwy. 174, then continued westbound on Highway 417.

Thousands of police officers from services across the country marched past the Canadian Tire Centre in a solemn parade to mark Mueller's service and sacrifice.

The sound of ceremonial bagpipes was drowned out by the helicopters overhead as the funeral procession carrying Mueller's casket passed by officers standing in salute.

Thousands of police officers from across the country are attending the funeral, OPP spokesman Bill Dickson told CTV News on Thursday morning.

"Most of them may never have heard of Eric Mueller before, and it's sad that this is why they hear of him," he said. "I think every police officer can look at what happened to Eric and say 'This could have been me.'"

"For Eric's widow and his other family, this shows that he means something to so many," Dickson said. "For fellow officers who worked with him at Russell County detachment, to bring so many people together shows that support, that bond."

Alain Bellefeuille, 39, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Mueller and two counts of attempted murder. He appeared in court Thursday afternoon and is due to appear again on June 13.

- with files from Natalie van Rooy, CTV News Ottawa and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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