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Police Stunned By Death of Ontario Police Officer; Teen Arrested

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May 16, 2004

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Police Stunned By Death of Ontario Police Officer; Teen Arrested

Officer Down: Const. Chris Garrett - [Cobourg, ]

The Toronto Star

Cobourg, Ontario, Canada (CP) -- Colleagues and friends mourned the death Saturday of a veteran police officer killed in the line of duty while responding to a 911 call.

The death of Const. Chris Garrett, 39, stunned colleagues who worked with him in this quiet Lake Ontario city about 100 kilometres east of Toronto.

"He was just a cop's cop," said a teary Cobourg Police Chief Garry Clement, who was told of the death in a 3 a.m. phone call.

"This is the most dedicated and loyal police officer I've worked with in 31 years," he told CFTO News, the Toronto CTV affiliate.

Police refused to say how the 13-year police force veteran died. Neighbours near the scene reported hearing gunshots at the time. Friends and media reports said he had been stabbed outside an abandoned hospital.

Neighbours of the hospital said they were awakened early Saturday by gunshots coming from the building, which is patrolled by security guards.

The shots "sounded like they were from the same gun, and I didn't hear anything that would indicate an exchange of gunfire," neighbour Brian Moffatt told the Toronto Star.

"He was called out and there was a knife involved, and there were shots fired," Garrett's father, Gord, told the Toronto Star.

"That's all they're telling us. . . . Apparently somebody must have got the jump on him."

Garrett's body was found by responding officers just a few metres from his cruiser, which was parked in the hospital driveway.

Provincial police Sgt. Terry Blace would only say Garrett was responding to a robbery call.

"As a result of him attending at that call, there was an incident and unfortunately the officer was murdered at that scene," said Blace.

Garrett, who lived in the tiny town of Grafton, about 10 km east of Cobourg, leaves behind his wife Denise, son Ben, 12, and stepdaughter Britany. His parents, Gordon and Evelyn Garrett, live in Odessa, Ont.

Police said an 18-year-old man surrendered to police and was being held in Lindsay pending a court appearance in Cobourg on Sunday.

His name was not released. As of late Saturday, the man had not been charged.

Cobourg police turned the investigation over to the Ontario Provincial Police, led by Insp. Glen Bowmaster.

Garrett's father-in-law Bill Nichol, who flew in from Saint John, N.B. to be with Garrett's shattered family, called the killing "a senseless and needless act."

"Chris was a very loving father and husband, greatly loved by all his family and fellow officers," he said.

Garrett is the first officer to be killed on duty in the history of the force.

Garrett was a 13-year veteran of the Cobourg force, and had served five years with Peel Region police in Toronto.

A former use-of-force instructor and coach officer for new recruits, Garrett was known for his meticulous attention to detail and safe procedures on the job, fellow officers said.

Close friend and long-time colleague Sgt. John Davison said Garrett was a dedicated family man, proud of being a police officer and known for being a "by-the-book" officer who was safety conscious at all times.

"Sometimes you can get a little lackadaisical on the job, but not Chris," he said. "He was always aware of his surroundings so something happened that he absolutely didn't foresee."

Davison said his friend loved woodworking, particularly restoring antiques, and showed the same attention to detail in that hobby as he did with his police work.

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