By ELIZA BARLOW, EDMONTON SUN
True blue moms ... The mothers of the
four Mounties killed in March near
Mayerthorpe - from left, Doreen-Jewel
Duffy, Grace Johnston, Coleen-Patricia
Myrol and Beth Schiemann - model
jerseys presented to them yesterday
by a Durham, Ont., police officer who
raised funds for the Mounties' families.
(ROBERT TAYLOR, Sun)
Tears flowed freely at a downtown hotel last night as a group of Ontario cops paid tribute to the four Mounties slain by a gunman near Mayerthorpe earlier this year.
In an emotional ceremony, Const. Darryl Rice of the Durham Regional Police Service in Ontario presented each Mountie's family with a cheque for $25,000 and a sports jersey bearing their fallen son's name.
The presentations were the result of a "True Blue Heroes Bracelets" fundraiser Rice launched earlier this year after Constables Brock Myrol, Peter Schiemann, Leo Johnston and Anthony Gordon were shot dead by James Roszko during a search of his farm on March 3.
To date, more than 50,000 blue bracelets bearing the words "True Blue Heroes" have been distributed and more than $125,000 has been raised in support of the fallen Mounties, said Rice at the ceremony at Sutton Place Hotel.
"There's a lot of heart that goes into what we've done for you because we care about you and we care about your families," said Rice, struggling to maintain composure. "It just shows what it means to be a police officer, to be part of such a big family ... We will not forget what they did."
Rice presented the families with jerseys donated by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Stampeders, Calgary Roughnecks and Calgary Flames.
Kelly Johnston, who would have celebrated her first wedding anniversary with Leo Johnston on Nov. 13, said she'd lost her soulmate, best friend and her "reason for tomorrow" on March 3. "It's people like you who remind me there are reasons for tomorrow," she told Rice.
On Tuesday, the Mounties' families are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin, along with Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan in Ottawa to demand tougher crime laws.
"What happened on March 3 could happen so easily again," said Don Schiemann, father of Peter Schiemann. "The conditions are just right for it to happen. Police today are facing an unreasonable risk."
A recent Alberta Justice report said Roszko was flagged as a potential dangerous offender after a sexual assault conviction in 1995, but he didn't meet the criteria for such a serious status.
Schiemann said the families will ask Martin to institute mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. They also want the government to scrap a bill that would decriminalize marijuana.