'The loss is immeasurable': Slain B.C. RCMP officers work in the Burnaby detachment's homeless outreach team

The RCMP officer who died while on duty in Burnaby, BC, Tuesday has been identified as Const. Shaelyn Yang, member of the mental health and homeless team of the local detachment. Speaking at an emotional press conference hours after the tragedy, the head of RCMP Burnaby described Yang as a valuable member who accepted the challenges involved in working in a special unit.

"He is loving and caring, and he brings those skills every day to his work working with our most vulnerable communities," said Chief Supt. Graham De La Gorgendiere, who sometimes struggles to keep his composure. De La Gorgendiere described the incident that took Yang's life as absurd and tragic, and said breaking the news of his death was "probably the most difficult thing I have had to do in my career."

Officials said Yang and a Burnaby ordinance officer were summoned to Broadview Park on Tuesday morning, and were engaged to someone who was camping in a tent when the altercation erupted. Yang was stabbed, and died from his injuries after being rushed to the hospital. He is 31 years old.

"He answered the call of duty today and he paid the highest price," said Deputy Comm. Dwayne McDonald, commander of B.C. RCMP. "The loss is immeasurable." The cop was a "loving wife, sister and daughter," McDonald added.

A suspect was also shot during the altercation, and remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon with injuries that officials said were not life-threatening. The RCMP provided few details of what happened at the park, citing an active investigation by the BC police watchdog, the Office of Independent Investigation, as well as a parallel investigation by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

Despite some initial media reports of a "homeless camp" at Broadview Park, authorities confirmed there was only one tent. Yang began his police career in Richmond, where he lived, before graduating as a police officer in 2019. He joined RCMP Burnaby that same year, and remained there until his death. Please accept my condolences.

Tuesday afternoon, flags in the detachment and in the provincial legislature were lowered at half-mast in honor of the fallen officers.

Speaking to reporters shortly after receiving news of Yang's death, Secretary of Public Security Mike Farnworth described the situation as "tragic and appalling."

"Every day, we ask the thousands of uniformed men and women in this province to do their job, keep our communities safe, keep the public safe, knowing full well that this is a very dangerous job," Farnworth said, his voice shaking.

"This is the worst news anyone wants to hear."

As the news spread, messages of support began flooding in from across the province and country, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the fallen officers - I will continue to remember you during this terrible time," he said on Twitter.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called the death an "unimaginable loss" and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said he was "heartbroken."

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