Ottawa

Mountie charged in Ottawa officer's killing

Ottawa police Const. Eric Czapnik is dead and the Mountie charged in his stabbing death has been under suspension after receiving a conditional discharge in 2007 for threatening a Mormon bishop in Regina with a knife.
Flowers lie outside Ottawa Police Service headquarters after an officer was stabbed in his cruiser outside the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday. It was the first death of an on-duty Ottawa police officer since 1983. ((Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press))

The Mountie charged in Tuesday’s stabbing death of an Ottawa police officer has been under suspension after receiving a conditional discharge in 2007 on a charge of threatening a Mormon church official with a knife in Regina, CBC News has confirmed.

Kevin Gregson, 43, was arrested at the Civic Campus of The Ottawa Hospital early Tuesday after an Ottawa officer was stabbed while writing notes in his cruiser outside the emergency department.

Gregson was charged Tuesday evening with first-degree murder, robbery and use of an imitation firearm in the commission of an offence.

Const. Eric Czapnik, 51, was a father of four who had been with the Ottawa police force since April 2007. ((Ottawa Police Service))

The victim was Const. Eric Czapnik, 51, a father of four who had been with the force since April 2007, police Chief Vern White told an afternoon news conference.

In a brief note issued Tuesday evening, Czapnik's family mourned his loss and asked for privacy in their grief.

"Today we are faced with the loss of Eric, a police officer, and we grieve the loss of a husband, a father of four children, a brother and a son," the note said.

Czapnik, an immigrant from Poland whose father had also been a police officer, was a well-liked member of the force, White said.

He said the officer was alone at the hospital on an unrelated police matter when a man stabbed him. There was no known connection between the suspect and the officer.

"He was actually outside the hospital, preparing to leave," White said. 

"Thanks to the prompt response of members of the public and, in particular, two paramedics at the scene, the suspect was apprehended," he said.

The police chief called the paramedics "heroic," hinting they may have kept others from being harmed.

"Without their assistance, I don't know what would have happened," White added.

Witness JeromeN provides comments to CBCNews.ca:

"I work in the medical field, was there and was actively involved. I cannot obviously get into details out of respect for everyone, but I can at least give a realistic account, since the information people are spreading is simply sickening.

"Most importantly, the paramedics who almost helped save the life of this cop and likely saved the lives of others by stopping this suspect should be highly commended. This officer was hurt badly, two paramedics standing outside apprehended the suspect, while another brought the officer into the trauma area of the emergency department.

"Emergency physicians, anesthesiologists and surgeons of a number of different specialties, including trauma, head and neck and general surgery, were all there helping, doing everything that could be done …"  —JeromeN

In April 2007, Gregson pleaded guilty in a Regina court to uttering a death threat against a Mormon bishop, but received a conditional discharge when his lawyer persuaded the judge that cysts in Gregson's brain had contributed to his behaviour.

The court heard that Gregson was off duty when he approached Bishop Robert Howie about receiving what's called a "temple recommend," which allows members to enter a Mormon temple for religious ceremonies.

When the bishop told Gregson he had additional spiritual work to do before he could receive the recommendation, Gregson became angry and said: "I'm a cop, I'm not like the rest of you," according to court documents.

Gregson then pulled out a knife and said, "You don't know how many ways I've been taught to kill."

After he calmed down, Gregson left the bishop's office complaining about feeling "messed up" in his head, court heard.

Several months after that incident, Gregson was diagnosed with cysts in his brain. He has since had brain surgery and been under suspension without pay from his position at the RCMP's Regina headquarters.

Czapnik 'eager, fun-loving'

Ottawa police Chief Vern White speaks to reporters about Czapnik's death. ((Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press) )

Before the force released Czapnik's name Tuesday afternoon, Charles Momy, president of the Canadian Police Association, described the Ottawa officer as someone who enjoyed his work.

"He seemed to come across as a very jovial individual," said Momy, who met him briefly. "He seemed to be a very eager, fun-loving individual. [He] obviously loved his job."

Czapnik was one of the oldest officers ever hired by the Ottawa police force.

His stabbing marks the first death of an Ottawa police officer in the line of duty since 1983.

The hospital's emergency room remains open, but the area where the stabbing occurred was closed to the public. In the parking lot just outside the ER doors, an officer's gun, a knife and a large bloodstain could be seen behind police tape.

With files from The Canadian Press

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