Inquest finds Mounties acted ‘appropriately’ in Mayerthorpe killings

A judge has ruled the RCMP acted properly and appropriately in the deaths of four constables killed by James Roszko in 2005, including Anthony Gordon, whose grave is located in a Red Deer cemetery.
by RANDY FIEDLER/Advocate staff

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STONY PLAIN — A fatality inquiry into the deaths of four Alberta Mounties has boiled the shooting down to a “unique” event that could have neither been predicted nor prevented.

In a written decision released Monday, Judge Daniel Pahl found no fault with the training, experience or abilities of the four young officers who lost their lives on James Roszko’s farm near Mayerthorpe in March 2005.

Pahl did offer a handful of suggestions relating to risk assessment, including having a “threat assessment co-ordinator” in each detachment. He also recommends the RCMP consider national policy guidelines to secure potential crime scenes and an emergency medical response team to support high-risk operations.

But ultimately, he said, no one could have accounted for the deranged actions of a calculating mad man.

“I conclude that this was a uniquely tragic event which could not reasonably have been foreseen or prevented,” Pahl wrote.

“I am satisfied that the RCMP acted appropriately in all circumstances as they then knew them.”

Constables Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann were gunned down on Roszko’s farm while they were guarding a marijuana grow-op and auto parts chop-shop in a Quonset hut.

The inquiry heard how Roszko, who had fled bailiffs on his farm the previous day, snuck back and ambushed the officers.

A key point at the inquiry was whether the RCMP took the threat of Roszko returning seriously enough, given his long criminal history and previous run-ins with the law. But Pahl found that there was nothing to suggest that Roszko was likely to engage in a premeditated attack against the Mounties.

“They were aware of Roszko’s history but he had for some years been under the radar. He had fled from the bailiffs only a few hours earlier, just as he had done in the only other contact he had had with authority in recent years,” Pahl wrote.

“While a return was always to be considered a possibility, it was not seen as a probability. Nonetheless, appropriate measures were taken to alert the officers involved, adequately arm them and to secure the property in order to maintain continuity of the evidence.”

Gordon’s mother, Doreen Jewell Duffy, concurred with that finding.

“I think that is correct,” she said in a phone interview. “They didn’t know what was going on. So I think now — I don’t know — I just can’t wrap my head around it.”


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