First responders pay tribute to BC RCMP officer killed in the line of duty
Thousands of first responders lined the streets of Vancouver and Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday to honor the life of the Burnaby RCMP constable. Shaelyn Yang, who died in the line of duty on Tuesday.
Yang, 31, was responding to a call about a tent at a local park when she was fatally stabbed.
“He was a loving wife, sister and daughter,” B.C. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said Tuesday at a news conference.
“Those she worked with prior to joining the RCMP and her fellow officers have described Constable Yang as a kind and compassionate person, which makes her death even more difficult to accept… Her loss is immeasurable.”
WATCH | First responders line the streets to pay their respects to deceased Burnaby RCMP officer
The motorcade traveled from Vancouver General Hospital to Burnaby Hospital.
“A lot of teenagers saw her as a role model”
Members of the Taiwanese Canadian community in British Columbia also pay their respects to Constable Burnaby.
William Tsai, a resident of Richmond, British Columbia, says he met Yang, also known as Tzu-Hsin, four years ago when she was a civilian volunteer working at the adolescent mental health awareness.
“Her passion and dedication to uplifting others came through when I met her years ago,” Tsai said in an interview conducted in Mandarin.
“Her volunteer services left teenagers feeling inspired by the goals of making a difference in the lives of others, just like her. Many teenagers saw her as a role model.”
He says the death of the 31-year-old officer left the community heartbroken but proud.
“We were heartbroken to hear the tragic news, but we are also proud of her for her contribution to Canada,” he said.
Yang, who was a homeless and mental health outreach worker, was linked to a city worker on Tuesday when she was fatally stabbed during an altercation at a homeless campground in Burnaby, Utah. east of Vancouver.
McDonald said she has been a police officer since 2019.
Relatives fly from Taiwan to Canada for funeral
Ruby Ba, president of the Taiwanese Canadian Association of British Columbia, said the community will do everything possible to support Yang’s family and has been in contact with the RCMP to organize a memorial in his honor.
“The Taiwanese community has spoken of honoring Agent Yang… We will be there when and where we can to help.
“At the moment we are just waiting to see if there are any further announcements made public by the police,” Ba said.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan’s de facto diplomatic office in Vancouver, said Yang was the daughter of immigrants from Taichung in central Taiwa and that her parents would fly from Taiwan to Vancouver to attend the Yang’s funeral.
“We have been in contact with the family and will provide all assistance and support to the family,” a spokesperson said.
Tsai says community members hope to hold a memorial next month to honor Yang’s contributions to Canada.
The suspect in court on November 2
Jongwon Ham has been charged with first degree murder and is scheduled to appear in court on November 2.
Court records show Ham was wanted for separate assaults in Vancouver and an arrest warrant was issued on Monday, the day before the fatal altercation.
Wednesday, Sgt. Timothy Pierotti of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said Yang was not at the park to execute the warrant. Instead, she was helping the city worker tell Ham — the occupant of a remote tent in the park — that he couldn’t stay there, he said.
Ham was charged with assault on March 17.
The Vancouver Police Department said in a statement that officers responded to a 911 call that day about “an agitated man who allegedly made anti-Muslim comments” at a downtown food court. The man allegedly assaulted a security guard.
Ham was arrested and officers discovered he also had a warrant for his arrest.
On Feb. 15, 2021, Vancouver police records also show officers responded to a report of a man who allegedly slurred racial slurs before kicking someone near Chinatown. Police located the suspect fighting with another man nearby, they said, and the suspect resisted arrest.
Court records show Ham was charged with assault and resisting a peace officer.
Burnaby’s Society to End Homelessness released a statement describing Yang’s death as “a tragic loss to the community.”
“Having experienced Officer Yang’s care for the community and seeing her compassion for those she worked with and among her, we have nothing but the highest praise for her,” the statement read.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta-Canadian Press News Fellowship, who is not involved in the editorial process.