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"RIJ" 2006 Obituary


RIJN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-05-06 published
Officer shot dead, 2 teens in custody
By Peter EDWARDS in Windsor Nicolaas VAN RIJN in Toronto with files from Scott ROBERTS, Camille ROSS and Canadian Press, Page A1
A Windsor police officer who "couldn't wait to go to work" was shot dead yesterday afternoon while coming to the aid of a harassed family operating a Mac's Milk convenience store in a residential section of the border city.
Two 18-year-old male suspects are in custody and a gun has been seized, Windsor police Insp. Greg RENAUD told a news conference last night.
Const. John ATKINSON, 37, the father of two young children, is believed to be the first officer in the more than 120-year history of the Windsor force to be killed on duty, said Windsor police Chief Glenn STANNARD, who noted three other officers have died in car accidents.
As word of the 14-year police veteran's death rippled across the border city, the shock was palpable.
"Today the entire city mourns the loss of a dedicated individual, a committed individual who put service above self," said Windsor Mayor Eddie FRANCIS.
Police said the incident, at 2: 05 p.m. in a parking lot near Seminole St. and Pillette Rd., in a residential neighbourhood about half a dozen blocks south of the Detroit River, began when ATKINSON approached two men.
According to local residents, ATKINSON, who lived in the neighbourhood, was responding to a call for help from the Middle Eastern family who operated the milk store. They'd complained of being harassed by "white kids," neighbours said; when they told ATKINSON about it he suggested they call him if it happened again.
They did, and he responded quickly to confront the two men, neighbours said, producing his badge and identification. That's when one of the two men allegedly pulled a gun and shot him.
STANNARD said ATKINSON "approached these individuals and during this time a firearm was produced and Const. ATKINSON was shot. Const. ATKINSON was struck by a bullet, but was able to return fire."
"The two suspects," STANNARD added, "were seen fleeing the area on foot after the shooting, leaving the officer lying on the sidewalk. And it is possible, when the suspects were fleeing, some items were discarded, such as clothing."
Two 18-year-old Windsor men -- uninjured -- were arrested shortly afterwards during a massive police search, and a firearm was recovered, but police won't say if the weapon was related to the shooting.
Investigators also wouldn't say how many times the officer, assigned to the provincial anti-terrorism section, was hit. But local residents said ATKINSON was hit at least twice, once in the throat and chest.
Dennis ROCHON was sitting on his balcony in a nearby apartment building when he heard three loud shots. Rushing outside, he found ATKINSON on the pavement.
"There was no movement," ROCHON said. "There was blood all over the place. It looked like he got shot in the throat and the side of the chest. You could tell he was dead."
Another man, identified only as Terry, said he saw ATKINSON struggling, stumbling three or four metres before collapsing.
"He tried to get up, and he fell again," Terry said.
Lloyd MENARD, in the store at the time, thought he was hearing things when the gunfire broke out.
"At first, a couple of people thought they were just like poppers on the ground, but no, it was actually gunfire," he said. "My truck's got blood all over it, so those kids must have shot him right there."
After the two suspects were taken into custody, Special Weapons and Tactics teams scoured the neighbourhood for a possible third participant in the shooting, but police later said there may only have been the two suspects.
ATKINSON, a senior constable who started with the force as a cadet, was known as a "good cop," STANNARD said.
The chief, FRANCIS, a chaplain and several of ATKINSON's on-the-force Friends visited the slain officer's wife, Shelley, and his children yesterday afternoon in an effort to console the family. ATKINSON's daughter Nicole turned 7 this week; his son Mitchell is 9.
During the family visit, STANNARD said, tears flowed freely.
"You do what your heart leads you with," STANNARD told reporters last night when asked about the visit.
"It's a tragic thing, and I think the best I can do is say you share tears, and you share hugs."
STANNARD said he and the Windsor police honour guard will be in Toronto, as planned, for the annual memorial ceremony of remembrance at the Ontario Police Memorial tomorrow at 10: 45 a.m. The memorial, at Grosvenor St. and Queen's Park Circle E., commemorates Ontario police officers slain on duty.
"Our honour guard and I will be attending… obviously with heavy hearts," the chief said.

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RIJS 2006-09-30 published
HOEDEMAN, Jane (née Adriana Johanna VAN RIJS)
Peacefully in London on Thursday, September 28, 2006, in her 78th year. Beloved mother of Roy of Ottawa, Max and his wife Beverly of Nelson, British Columbia, Carol and her husband Gaetan of Sidney, British Columbia and Jeff and his wife Mary of Toronto. Loving grandmother of Jules, Tegan, Isabelle and Dhyan. She will be dearly missed by her brothers and sisters and their families. Special thanks to her family and the staff of Regional Mental Health Care for their loving support. A memorial service will be conducted at the James A. Harris Funeral Home, 220 Saint_James Street at Richmond on Saturday, September 30, 2006 at 1: 00 p.m. Memorial contributions to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be gratefully acknowledged.

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