Ceremony honours fallen RCMP officer

A sombre ceremony is set to mark the 30th anniversary of the shooting death of an RCMP officer in Climax, Saskatchewan.

A sombre ceremony is set to mark the 30th anniversary of the shooting death of an RCMP officer in Climax, Saskatchewan.

The Shaunavon detachment is hosting a memorial service Thursday for Cpl. Ole Larsen, who was killed on duty Aug. 11, 1981.

In a news release, RCMP outlined the tragic circumstances that led up to the fatal shooting. Larsen, 36, was killed by an emotionally distraught man, Keith Allyn Sipley, who fled the scene and took his own life.

"Sipley was watched carefully by the police in the area because he was known for his undisciplined and irresponsible behaviour," RCMP said in recounting the shooting.

On Aug. 9, 1981 Cpl. Larsen was dispatched to remove Sipley from his estranged wife's home.

Sipley, who was in his early twenties, was greatly agitated by that and vowed to confront the officer about the issue.

The next night Sipley drove to Larsen's home on the west side of the village and, his tires screeching, laid down some donuts on the road.

"It appears that Sipley's intention was to entice Larsen out of the house," police said.

Shortly before midnight, Larsen went outside to deal with Sipley.

Larsen got into his police cruiser and chased Sipley through the village until Sipley came to a stop in the middle of the street, in front of the Climax hotel.

Shot at point blank range

"Then, as the policeman walked towards Sipley's car, the troubled young man stepped out of his car with a .22 rifle in his hands and shot the unsuspecting corporal several times at point blank range," police said. "Badly wounded, the Mountie stumbled back to his car and turned his siren back on in a vain attempt to rouse some help.

"In front of two witnesses who were standing outside the hotel, Sipley followed Larsen back to the cruiser and shot him twice more through the closed car door as he lay across the seat."

Sipley then got back into his car and roared away.

Larsen was taken to the local hospital in "desperate condition with a grievous gunshot wound through the eye," police said.

An ambulance plane was called in, and Larsen managed to stay alive for a short time, but died as the airplane landed around 2:25 a.m. Aug. 11.

Shooter takes own life

Sipley, meanwhile, headed south and eventually ended up in a farmer's yard in Montana where he got into a truck and made several noisy turns.

The farm owner went out to investigate and found Sipley in his truck with his head lying back against the seat.

"He was dead from a gunshot wound in the forehead," police said. The .22 rifle lay across his knees.

Police said Sipley left behind a rambling message on a tape recorder

"I don't know what made me do it," Sipley had recorded, according to police. "I wish to God it had never happened."

Larsen left behind a wife and two daughters, aged nine and seven.

"The 14-year veteran was buried with full honours at the RCMP cemetery in Regina," police said. "He is still kindly remembered by the good people he served."

Thursday's ceremony is set to begin with a march through Shaunavon to the detachment where, at 1 p.m., a program of speakers will begin. Members of Larsen's family are also expected to speak at the ceremony.

Climax is about 305 kilometres southwest of Regina. The Shaunavon detachment is about 50 kilometres north of Climax.