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Procession brings slain OPP officer home to Barrie (7 photos)

Mourners line overpasses to pay respects to OPP Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala who will be laid to rest in Barrie on Jan. 4

OPP Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala is home after a procession carried his body along Highway 400 to Barrie, where he will have a police funeral Jan. 4.

About 80 people lined the Bayfield Street overpass, with many saluting, as the procession of police vehicles drove under each highway overpass before exiting at Duckworth Street to take Pierzchala to a funeral home.

The 28-year-old OPP officer was killed Dec. 27 while responding to a call west of Hagersville.

Police say Pierzchala responded to a call for a vehicle in a ditch just west of Hagersville on Tuesday afternoon and was shot dead when he got there.

A 28-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman have been charged with first-degree murder in relation to the shooting.

The procession left the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto around 9 a.m. and travelled north on Highway 400 to Barrie, where mourners and those looking to pay their respects stood on each of the city’s overpasses.

Karen Lebal was among them. She said she didn’t know Pierzchala but noted he was only two years older than her daughter.

“I can’t imagine what that family is going through. To lose him so suddenly, for no damn reason that is good enough, is just unbearable,” said Lebal. “I’ll line the street with my family when we know more details on the funeral.”

An OPP spokesperson said on Friday details of the funeral cannot yet be confirmed.

Pierzchala had been with the force for just more than a year and he had been notified he had passed his 10-month probation period hours before his death. Police say he was previously a special constable at Queen’s Park who, as a boy, dreamed of joining the police ranks.

Craig Head is the chaplain with Barrie Police Service. He said he was there to show his support and he hopes others always do the same.

“This is too many line-of-duty deaths that we’ve had across the country and, of course, close to home,” said Head. “This is horrendous — to be murdered in cold blood — and we need to support our officers.”

On Oct. 11, South Simcoe Police Service constables Devon Northrup and Morgan Russell were shot and killed while responding to a disturbance at a home in the area of 25th Sideroad and 9th Line in Innisfil.

The officers were shot inside the home, according to police, and the suspect was later pronounced dead following an “interaction” with police.

Their funeral was held at the Sadlon Arena and was attended by thousands of officers from around North America.