'She would give the shirt off her back': Partner of Calgary mother of 5 remembers her giving spirit
Jeffery Poirier says family's world is upside down after Angela McKenzie, 40, killed in road rage incident
Last winter, Jeffery Poirier took a trip to Ghost Lake, near Cochrane, Alta., with his partner, Angela McKenzie, and her mother, who had never been to a frozen lake before.
It was at that point that Poirier says he saw a look on his partner's face he hadn't seen in a long time: happiness.
"It was probably the first time in a long time that I've seen Ang smile that much. She had went through previous relationships that were very tumultuous," Poirier said.
"And she was just starting to come back to the person I originally knew. And the person that I truly loved."
Today, Poirier says his world has been turned upside down. McKenzie, 40, was killed on Tuesday in what police called a road rage incident.
WATCH | Jeffery Poirier describes how he discovered that Angela McKenzie had died and how it is being felt by her family:
According to police, occupants of a red Chevrolet Silverado and a grey Volkswagen Jetta were driving erratically and shooting at each other at about 11:10 p.m., just before colliding with two other vehicles not involved in the chase at an intersection in Forest Lawn.
McKenzie was driving a silver van. Police said she was an innocent victim of the incident and was declared deceased at the scene.
Stray bullets struck at least two nearby homes on 36th Street S.E. No one in those homes was injured, according to police.
Poirier said McKenzie was heading home from his place that night. When she didn't answer her phone, he went out to look for her.
"She didn't answer her phone, and she always answers the phone. I knew something wasn't right," he said. "I knew roughly the path she was going to be taking home, and that's when I came across the accident and saw her van.
"I hit the ground. I hit the ground.… My world fell apart."
McKenzie leaves behind five children. According to family, the father of the children died a few months ago.
Poirier said the entire family have seen their worlds upended, especially the children, who are devastated.
"My main concern is making sure that the children maintain their routines and try to keep some sort of semblance of normalcy in their life," he said.
A long relationship
Poirier said he first met McKenzie when he was 20 years old, while working for her father.
"One of the first things he said to me was, 'You stay away from my daughter.' And I was 20 years old. I did exactly that. I did what the man said," he recalled. "I bought my time for 20 years. And then I started dating her."
He said what he loved about McKenzie was her heart: "No one could compare to it," he said.
"She was an amazing woman. She would give the shirt off her back to somebody standing on the side of the road that needed it because they were cold," he said. "I've physically seen that happen.
"She was a regular volunteer at the Salvation Army church. Her family has been highly involved in the church since she was a little girl."
Her giving spirit led her to give the best for everyone, Poirier said, even if it cost her everything she had.
"She wanted to know that everybody else was good. Because her heart was just so damn big," he said.
What really kept her going were her kids, Poirier said, who were her world.
Poirier said the family has reached out to the victim assistance team through the Calgary police to secure any additional counselling the kids may need.
"I know the kids' world is upside down," he said. "But we have an amazing support network between her family, and my family, and the massive and amazing outpour of support that we are getting from everyone in the community.
"And that just goes to show these kids that, no matter what tragedy happens, there is still plenty of love in this world."
Gar Gar, president of the Forest Lawn Community Association, said incidents such as this bring concern over violent crime in the community.
"Any time something like this happens, it does bring worry, and it does bring that fear," he said.
Calgary police have not yet charged anyone in connection with the incident. They are speaking with the man who was in the Jetta.
At a news conference held Wednesday, Supt. Scott Boyd said this was the 58th shooting on Calgary streets this year.
"This is a tragedy for our community and a complete disregard for public safety. We are committed to investigating this incident and holding those involved responsible," he said.
Police said the driver of the other vehicle not involved in the shooting was unharmed.
The individual who fled from the Jetta was found nearby, police said. He had gunshot wounds and was taken to hospital, where he remains in stable condition.
Police said the occupants of the red Silverado, a man and a woman, haven't yet been located.
With files from Carolyn Dunn