Grief mixes with pride as two Edmonton police officers mourned by their families

"No words can begin to explain how deep our sorrow and pain is today," reads a mother's heartbreaking Facebook post in the wake of Thursday's tragic deaths of two Edmonton police officers.

'No words can begin to explain how deep our sorrow and pain is today'

A wall of flowers and a candle.
A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening as bouquets of flowers, many bearing messages of sympathy, rest in the snow near the West Division Police Station in Edmonton. Two West Division patrol officers, Const. Brett Ryan and Const. Travis Jordan, were killed Thursday morning in the line of duty. (Danielle Bénard/Radio-Canada)

Travis Jordan spent hours as a child conducting make-believe arrests of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie. After he became a police officer, he made sure to phone his parents almost every day after his shift ended.

Brett Ryan loved his family, which included his wife, their unborn child, his parents and brothers, as well as the extended "family" he'd found among Edmonton's firefighters, paramedics and his colleagues at the Edmonton Police Service.

These were the stories shared in emotional social media posts from families of the two EPS West Division constables in the wake of their deaths early Thursday. 

"Today we lost our youngest son in the line of duty with EPS," Laurie Ryan, mother of Brett, wrote on Facebook Thursday. "No words can begin to explain how deep our sorrow and pain is today." 

Composite image showing two men in black police uniforms.
Const. Travis Jordan, 35, left, and Const. Brett Ryan, 30, were killed Thursday morning while responding to a call at an apartment complex in northwest Edmonton. (Edmonton Police Service)

Ryan, 30, and Jordan, 35, were fatally shot Thursday while responding to a family dispute at an apartment complex in northwest Edmonton.

Ryan lived in Spruce Grove, about 30 kilometres west of Edmonton. He worked as a paramedic in northern Alberta before joining the city's police service about 5½ years ago.

Laurie Ryan spoke of her pride in her son and her gratitude to those who came to his aid on Thursday.

"The community, family and friends had one of the best taken from us way too soon," his mother wrote. 

"RIP my son, we've been blessed to have you for the past 30 years but today your loss is unbearable." 

Childhood dream to be a police officer

Jordan moved across the country from his home in Nova Scotia to pursue his career with the Edmonton police, where he worked for 8½ years, his sister Sheena said in a Facebook post.

He had dreamed of being a police officer "since the day he could talk," she wrote.

Jordan was once featured in the local news for giving an Edmonton driver — whose vehicle was heaped with snow — a snow brush and a smile instead of a ticket. 

"My brother was one of the best, and every single person who got to work with him, got helped by him, and perhaps even got a ticket are lucky they had him," Sheena wrote.

Jordan was selfless; he wore his uniform with pride and lived for his job, she said. She described her little brother as her hero.

"Thanks to a senseless act, a tragic act … my brother no longer gets to go home."

Rushed to hospital by colleagues

The officers responded to the apartment building shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday. They were shot while approaching the suite, police said. Investigators believe the officers did not fire their weapons. 

Ryan and Jordan were rushed to hospital by colleagues who worked en route to keep them alive. They were declared dead at hospital.

The 16-year-old suspected of shooting the officers is dead. Investigators believe he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The suspect's mother was shot and taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. As of Friday morning, police said she remained in hospital but could not confirm her condition. 

Book of condolences

In Edmonton and across the country, Canadians are honouring the memory of the fallen officers.

On Thursday, the men's bodies were given a police escort to the medical examiner's office. Officers lined the street outside the building, standing guard for the fallen officers. Many choked back tears.

At the EPS West Division building, where Jordan and Ryan were patrol officers, flags were lowered to half-mast, while Edmontonians paid their respects with a growing collection of flowers and cards strewn across the steps. 

Three poles with lowered flagsin front of a brick and glass building, illuminated by the sun.
Flags were at half-mast at the West Division Police Station on Thursday after two Edmonton police officers were killed. (Julia Wong/CBC)

Flags were also at half-mast at the Alberta legislature, where a moment of silence was observed Thursday. During the sombre question period on Thursday afternoon, it was confirmed the men's names will be inscribed on the monument to fallen officers, located on the legislature's south grounds. 

On Friday morning, Edmontonians were invited to sign condolence books that have been set up at city hall and at the city's six police stations. The books will be available for signing during regular business hours. 

Messages can also be provided electronically at edmontonpolice.ca/inmemoriam.

A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening at West Division, 16505 100th Ave. 

A framed portrait of a man stands behind a book on a table draped with a blue cloth.
Books of condolence have been set up at Edmonton City Hall as well as at the city's police stations. Const. Brett Ryan, shown in the portrait, and Const. Travis Jordan were killed Thursday while investigating a family dispute. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

In Nova Scotia, where Jordan grew up and still has family, RCMP organized a memorial procession, which also included numerous officers from the Kentville Police Service and military police.

"I don't know how we go on from here but we will never stop sharing the memories and we will never let any one forget the hero that you are," wrote Jordan's sister Sheena.

"There's no way heaven needed him more than we did."

people hug and cry
Dozens of people gathered as a candlelight vigil was held Friday evening at West Division, 16505 100th Ave.  (Danielle Bénard/Radio-Canada)