Police officer lay in pool of blood to comfort Larry Wellman in last moments

Const. Barry Reynolds breaks down in the witness box as he remembers lying in a pool of blood with Larry Wellman, cradling his head until he took one last breath.

Constable breaks down on stand as he recalls fears of active gunman, watching man die

Const. Barry Reynolds, a 10-year veteran of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, held Larry Wellman and stayed with him until paramedics arrived. (Ariana Kelland/Submitted)

Const. Barry Reynolds remembers listening to the Tragically Hip on his drive home, as he wondered how he was going to tell his wife he had just watched a man die. 

Hours earlier, the father of two got on the ground and laid in a pool of Larry Wellman's blood so he wouldn't be alone during his last breaths. 

Reynolds was one of the first Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers on the scene of a shooting at Captain's Quarters Hotel on Oct. 3, 2015.

He took the stand at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Friday, offering a raw and real detailed account of what police officers can face when they answer a call.

"One moment I was faced with going into an armed shooter situation, wondering if I'm going home, to holding a man in my arms and watch him take his last breath," Reynolds told the 12-person jury at the Brandon Phillips first-degree murder trial. 

'Am I going home tonight?'

Reynolds was parked at the corner of George and Adelaide Streets in downtown St. John's when a call came over the police radio: unknown trouble at Captain's Quarters.

The only thing I knew how to do ... was to comfort him.- Const. Barry Reynolds

As his patrol car got closer, he learned a man had been shot.

"A lot of things were going through my head. Am I going to be shot? Am I going home tonight?" Reynolds said, between deep breaths.

He thought the shooter was still inside.

An armed man, who the Crown contends is Brandon Phillips, shot Larry Wellman during a holdup at the Captain's Quarters on Oct. 3, 2015. (RNC)

Reynolds thought of his wife and two daughters, then braced himself. 

"Then I knew in my mind I was ready to accept what was coming," he recalled, crying.

But what he found was Larry Wellman bleeding out on the ground, having been shot by an armed robber while intervening at the bar. 

Reynolds broke down as he recalled a woman, Linda McBay, yelling, "'Do something for him, do something for him.'"

He held Wellman's head in his hands and they looked into each other's eyes, he said. 

"I believed there was a slim chance of survival," Reynolds said. "The only thing I knew how to do ... was to comfort him."

That's when the 10-year veteran of the force got on the ground and laid in a pool of Wellman's blood with him. 

He watched as his breathing slowed. More and more. Until it stopped.

"My heart just sank."

Officer went into OR with victim

If there was anything learned from the first week of Phillips's trial, it's that the death of Wellman had a long and profound effect on many people, including those who hardly knew him. 

Const. Shane Boland, a relatively new officer at the time, arrived on scene shortly after Reynolds.

He too entered Captain's Quarters without knowing if the shooter was still inside. 

"I remember seeing a male laying down in a large pool of blood ... it was the most blood I've ever seen in my life," Boland testified. 

Brandon Phillips, 29, and his lawyer Mark Gruchy Friday at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

Boland got in the ambulance with Wellman, who was still alive when paramedics arrived, and rode to St. Clare's Mercy Hospital.

He followed doctors and nurses as they rushed Wellman into the operating room.

Boland said he removed his uniform and got into hospital scrubs so he could go in the operating room with Wellman.

But after surgery, a doctor told Boland there was little chance of survival and that Wellman had been shot in the mid-section.

He took Wellman's clothing and went back to headquarters to bring it to evidence. It was now a homicide case.

"It was a scene I'll never forget. There's no doubt about that."

Defence lawyer Mark Gruchy chose not to question Reynolds, but did ask a few questions of Boland.

"You didn't see what actually happened?" Gruchy put it to Boland.


The trial is scheduled to continue on Tuesday. 


Read CBC NL's previous coverage of the trial:

About the Author

Ariana Kelland


Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.