“I don’t think anyone’s going to get over it until the day that we’re off this earth”

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It’s been a year since Edmonton Police Service constables Brett Ryan, 30, and Travis Jordan, 35, were shot and killed in the line of duty while on a domestic call.

As the March 16 anniversary approached, friends and colleagues recalled the two men felled by a teen’s bullets in the entryway of an Inglewood apartment suite.

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The 16-year-old gunman shot and wounded his mother after opening fire on the officers, and days earlier shot a Pizza Hut employee. The teen killed himself with the same gun after shooting the officers and his mother.

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An Edmonton man has since been charged with manslaughter for selling the .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle to the 16-year-old who killed Ryan and Jordan.

‘Wonderful people’

Musician and songwriter Dave Pedersen is in the band of Juno-nominated Stirling John. He’s also an Edmonton police school resource officer.

EPS Travis Jordan Brett Ryan
Books of condolences were out for Const. Travis Jordan and Const. Brett Ryan at the Battle for the Badges Charity Hockey Game. Ryan and his family are part of the community of Spruce Grove, where he was an official referee with the Spruce Grove Minor Hockey Association. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Pedersen recalled the last call he and Ryan worked together — a frightening domestic case where a guardian was afraid of a minor.

“A special-needs grandchild was having a major panic attack in the car, and was pummelling the grandma as she tried to drive.

“She pulled over and she was scared and worried. We came out there and made traffic safe for them, and just calmed everyone down,” Pedersen said.

“We figured out what we were going to do — one of us was going to drive in the vehicle with them and just held hands with the with the grandchild and made it safe for the grandma. We got them home and just asked if they need anything else and it was good.”

The fractured domestic situation, the out-of-control youth — in another universe, the incident that escalated without warning on March 16, 2023, could have been so different, he mused.

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“I sure wish it did, because they were both really wonderful people. It was a big loss to lose both of them.”

Pedersen trained with Jordan, recalling him to be an extremely hard worker, not arrogant.

“He was humble. He kept that work ethic. He was kind, he was approachable. He was a problem solver. Exactly what you’d want in a police officer,” Pedersen said.

“The kind of person that if my family was in trouble, I would want him there.”

On the day the two constables perished, Pedersen and fellow musicians recorded a tribute he’d written, called “You Ain’t Dyin’.”

It was absolutely heartbreaking to learn of the tragic deaths of my friends and co-workers Cst. Travis Jordan and Cst. Brett Ryan. We wrote and recorded this song in their memory. May they rest in peace. Edmonton Police Service

Posted by David Bryan on Thursday, March 16, 2023

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The performance was inspired by the slain constables. The post has earned 16,000 hits in the ensuing year, an tear-jerking piece with soaring harmonies.

“It can be heart wrenching to perform it and I always worry that I’m not gonna make it through,” Pedersen said.

Edmonton’s High Level Bridge will light up blue Saturday in honour of the officers.

On Friday, prior to a private ceremony to honour the men, Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the lives of Ryan and Jordan continue to serve as beacons to others.

“Their spirit will continue inspiring the ranks of officers for years to come,” McFee said.

Not going to get over it

Paul Cyr was friends with Jordan from the days when they played lacrosse together in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, and when they roomed together at Saint Mary’s University.

“We talked about work and sometimes he just liked to vent about the craziness of being a police officer and the things that you see, but we tried not to always talk about that type of stuff,” he said.

The pair had discussed a case Jordan and Ryan had looked into.

“He actually was talking about the person that ended up taking him and Brett’s life, that they were searching for that person that went into the Pizza Hut in that same neighbourhood and had shot a Pizza Hut employee,” Cyr said.

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“It was very eerie,” he said. “Even to this day. I have not deleted my text messages.”

Edmonton police
Police and Peace officers march down 104 Avenue In Edmonton and up 102 Street into Rogers Place on March 27, 2023, during the regimental funeral for constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan. Photo by Shaughn Butts /Postmedia

Thousands of miles apart, they connected virtually by playing Call of Duty on Xbox, playing the evening before Jordan was killed.

“He had sent me a text message to jump on Xbox and we played a little bit of that before he was going to the shift … where he ended up passing away,” Cyr recalled.

Jordan had a personal magnetism that made him friends, Cyr remembered.

“He was never confrontational with people. He always went out of his way for people, he never asked for anything in return,” Cyr said.

“He never seemed like he was too stressed about stuff. And yet he knew how to take things seriously.

“Edmonton Police is definitely missing a guy like him,” Cyr said.

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An annual golf tournament has been founded in the Annapolis Valley in Jordan’s name.

Paul Cyr replays what he’s heard of the tragic case over and over in his head.

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“I’m thinking had this situation unfolded a little bit differently. Like, if the mother had stayed in her apartment rather than coming outside. Or why this guy sold a gun to a 16-year-old,” he said.

“It is what it is — police officers have a dangerous job. They never know what’s going to happen when they’re going out on patrol,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to get over it until the day that we’re off this earth.”

A hockey legacy

A new community arena in Spruce Grove will be named in honour of Ryan, a Spruce Grove resident, and a well-respected referee with the Spruce Grove Minor Hockey Association.

Ashley Ryan, Brett’s wife, gave birth to their son last year after his death. She’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people in Spruce Grove and right across Canada.

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“It’s comforting to know that our young son will be able to grow up playing hockey in a facility dedicated to his dad and that Brett’s spirit will live on in one of his favourite places,” Ashley Ryan said in a statement marking the February arena announcement.

Spruce Grove Mayor Jeff Acker said Ryan was passionate about helping and serving others, both in his professional and personal life, and his death was a heartbreaking loss.

“We wanted to find a meaningful way to honour Brett’s memory and the lasting impact he’s had on our community, and in working with Brett’s family, have decided this is the most appropriate direction based on his connections to Spruce Grove,” he said.

Growing up, the hockey community became his second family and the rink his second home, recalled his parents, Bob and Laurie Ryan, who called the arena naming a fitting tribute.

“May those who enter the doors feel the same passion, excitement, joy, and camaraderie, that Brett had, and that this facility has to offer. May his presence be felt amongst us now and for years and generations to come,” Laurie Ryan posted on her Facebook page.

jcarmichael@postmedia.com

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