Toronto police officer shot was a ‘gentle giant’

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A Toronto police officer fatally shot inside a Mississauga coffee shop Monday afternoon is being remembered as a “gentle giant,” a “larger than life” person whose positive presence was felt before he even entered a room.

Const. Andrew Hong, a 22-year veteran of the Toronto police force, was shot and killed in an “ambush attack.” He was 48.

Hong is survived by his wife, two teenage children and his parents.

Hong, who was a member of Toronto police’s Traffic Services Unit – Traffic Motor Squad, was one of two people gunned down in a GTA shooting spree Monday afternoon involving the same suspect.

Another person, whose identity has yet to be confirmed, died after being shot at a Milton auto repair shop. Three others were also injured after being shot in the two incidents.

The shooter, who has yet to be identified, was called “armed and dangerous” in a police-issued emergency active shooter alert. The shooter died following an interaction with Halton police at a Hamilton cemetery.

Hong was in Mississauga for a joint training exercise with members of Toronto and York regional police forces. He’d reportedly stopped at a Tim Hortons for lunch around 2:15 p.m. where he was fatally shot at close range in what Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah described as an “ambush attack.” Hong died at the scene.

Andrew Hong, 48, is seen in this undated photograph.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg met Hong professionally on the job and called him a “very close” friend.

“Andrew was larger than life. Physically he was larger than life and his personality was in the room before he was. … We had a lot of laughs,” he told CP24 Monday night shortly after a gathering with hundreds of colleagues to pay respects to Hong before his body was taken to the Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex at Keele and Wilson Streets in North York.

Pegg said Hong was a police officer whose dedication to the job was “unwavering.” He called him “brave beyond description.”

“To see something like this happen in our city to people I love and care about, there are no words for that,” said Pegg, who called the killing “an unspeakable thing.”

“Our hearts are broken.”

Interim Toronto Police Chief James Ramer officially announced Hong’s death Monday evening in Mississauga.

Toronto Police Chief James Ramer speaks to the media at the scene of a shooting in Mississauga, Ont., Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. Cst. Andrew Hong, of the Toronto Police Service, was fatally shot after two separate shootings left two dead and three injured in the Greater Toronto Area on Monday afternoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey

“It is with a profound sadness that I announced the death of Toronto Police Service constable Andrew Hong, of Traffic Services,” he said during a press conference.

Calling Hong a “husband, father, and son,” Ramer said he’s committed to the slain officer’s family that they will have the “full support of the Toronto Police Service every day going forward.”

“This is devastating news for his family and for all members of the Toronto Police Service and our entire policing community. We will lean on each other while we work to support Constable Hong’s family and each other in our grief,” he said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the death of the officer is “profoundly sad,” adding it was evident that Hong was a “beloved” colleague, which he witnessed first hand Monday evening as many officers from Traffic Services had “tears streaming down (their) faces.”

“(Hong) was somebody that meant a lot to them” he said, adding police officers, while not perfect, “get up every morning and they put on a uniform, and they go out into potentially in harm’s way.”

“This is one of those kinds of things that just breaks your heart.”

Tory had met the fallen officer personally during the pandemic when he did some security work and called him a “gentle giant of a man.”

“Everybody who met him liked him,” he said.

The mayor is expected to visit Toronto police’s Traffic Services Unit, at 9 Hanna Ave. in Liberty Village, today to meet with Hong’s grieving colleagues.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, in a tweet posted at 6:30 p.m. Monday, said he’s “horrified” by the “senseless violence” that resulted in the killing of a Toronto police officer.

“I’m so grateful to law enforcement for bringing this situation to an end. May justice for those killed and injured be swift,” he wrote.

Last night, hundreds of officers gathered outside the Mississauga plaza near Argentia Road and Winston Churchill Boulevard where Hong was shot and killed for a Traffic Services-led procession that accompanied his body to the Coroner’s Office. A large contingent of police also gathered at that location.

Funeral arrangements for Hong are still in the works at this time.

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