Several first-responders and civilians lined the Bayfield Street bridge over Highway 400 in Barrie today to pay their respects to slain OPP Const. Marc Hovingh.
Hovingh's body was being transported from Toronto back to Manitoulin Island, where he was fatally shot last week.
The procession, which had a police escort, made its way through Barrie shortly after 1 p.m., Monday. Groups also gathered at other bridges in the city to salute the 52-year-old officer, who spent several years in Barrie as a child.
OPP Special Const. Jamie Barchaf was one of approximately 50 people standing on the Bayfield Street bridge.
“I think it's important for everyone to recognize the senseless loss of life and I think it is amazing all the people that are out here,” Barchaf told BarrieToday. “It's a tough day and age for officers, so for us to see this support is just awesome.”
Hovingh, who spent a large part of his youth in Barrie and attended Timothy Christian School, died Nov. 19 after being fatally shot during a police interaction related to a property dispute in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. Another person at the scene, a 60-year-old man named Gary Brohman, also died as a result.
Soon after arriving, officers located the man — who was inside a trailer — and there was "an interaction." At around 11 a.m., there was an exchange of gunfire between Hovingh and the man, resulting in both men being shot. They were transported to hospital where both succumbed to their injuries.
The province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) continues to probe the incident to determine what transpired during the call.
Hovingh and his family left Barrie before he finished high school. He went on to a 28-year career with the OPP before his death.
Jenna Montgomery isn’t a first-responder and didn’t know Hovingh, but felt it was important to be on the bridge today braving the cold wind.
“I just feel we should be supporting those who put their lives on the line for us, in this situation, literally,” Montgomery said. “It's cold out today, but the very least we can do is show we care and appreciate what police do.”
Dale Putters was on the bridge Monday afternoon and said he doesn’t care too much for the angry sentiment against police nowadays and wished the bridge “had so many people they had to shut the road down.”
“I know there are cops who may give a bad name to others, that happens in every walk of life. That doesn’t mean it's not sad when an officer, a guy from Barrie no less, gets shot and dies doing his job,” said Putters. “It is nice to see the Canadian flags out and it would have been better if there were 100 people here.”