Man and woman charged with manslaughter in death of Sask. RCMP Const. Shelby Patton
Family remember 26-year-old RCMP officer as 'one of the best'
The family of Saskatchewan RCMP Const. Shelby Patton say they're devastated by the death of a young man who loved his job and his community.
Patton, who worked out of the Indian Head detachment, was killed on Saturday morning in Wolseley, Sask., after he was struck by a stolen truck from Manitoba, officials said. Police said two suspects, a man and a woman, fled the scene and were later arrested.
His grandmother, Linda Patton, who spoke to CBC from Choiceland, Sask., on Sunday, said her entire family is devastated by the loss of the 26-year-old. She said he "was one of the best."
"It's hard too, because he was such a thoughtful person."
Patton said she hadn't seen her grandson for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said she's been getting updates on his work and career from his parents.
She said the family is completely broken as a result of the loss, as Patton was a person who always put others first. "He was just that type of person, I just can't say nice enough things about him," she said of Patton, who was from Yorkton, Sask.
Late Sunday night, RCMP announced that two suspects they had taken into custody earlier in the investigation have been charged.
Alphonse Stanley Traverse, 41 and Marlene Velma Louise Pagee, 42, both of Winnipeg, face numerous charges including manslaughter, failure to stop after an accident resulting in death, theft of a motor vehicle, and possession of stolen property over $5,000.
Both have been remanded into custody and are set to appear in Regina Provincial Court on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. CST
'The best type of person'
Linda Patton said her grandson loved his job with a passion, recalling how he was just beaming when he became a member of the RCMP following his graduation. She explained her grandson would do anything for his community and those around him, with that desire to help making him a good fit for the RCMP.
"He wouldn't harm anyone, that's the type of person he was and he'd do anything for you," she said.
"To me, he's the best. The best type of person you can ever deal with."
He just loved it and he loved where he was working.-Linda Patton, grandmother of RCMP Const. Shelby Patton
Linda Patton said while it was always in the back of her mind that something might happen to her grandson while on duty, she said the family "never, ever thought that it would."
She said RCMP are flying Patton's parents into Regina from Stettler, Alta., as they deal with the loss.
RCMP briefed the media Saturday evening about the incident, calling it "an extremely tragic time" for the RCMP and Patton's family.
"Const. Patton's family is also part of the RCMP family,'' said Rhonda Blackmore, Saskatchewan RCMP's commanding officer and assistant commissioner. "They have lost a husband, son and brother."
Information from the RCMP indicated Patton had served at the Indian Head detachment of the RCMP for the entirety of his service — more than six years — before his death.
"A tragedy such as this shakes our entire RCMP family to its core, coast to coast," said Blackmore. "Although we wear a police uniform, we are regular people, going to our job each day, just as everyone else does.
"Today, Const. Patton will not come home from doing his job protecting the public."
Officials with the national police force also took time to thank a civilian who tried to provide medical assistance to the officer until emergency responders arrived. Patton's grandmother said the family also extends their gratitude to the person who tried to save his life.
"I couldn't thank them enough," she said.
The case is now being handled by the RCMP Major Crimes Unit North with the assistance of various RCMP detachments from across the province.
The mayor of Wolseley, where the incident took place, said the entire community has been affected by the loss. Gerald Hill said the town is in a state of "utter shock and disbelief" as a heavy police presence descended on the town following the death.
"This kind of thing does not happen here," Hill said.
RCMP noted that farmers in the area were able to help officers as they worked to apprehend the two suspects in the area of Francis, Sask.
Blaine Muhr was one of them.
He said he explained the lay of the land to police, as he said he had a "gut feeling" as to where the two may be headed due to his knowledge of the trails and paths.
"There's a lot of shock," he said of those in the community.
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"It's always hard to believe that there's people like that right on your doorstep."
Muhr stressed that while he helped the police in their search, it was the officers who were able to locate the suspects and take them into custody, noting while the entire situation is "heartbreaking" he's glad he could help enforcement out.
"The RCMP did an excellent job," he said.
For Muhr, he said his thoughts are with Patton's family.
"I'm heartbroken for them," he said. "It's terrible. You can't put it into words."
While support for the family and the service continues to roll in, RCMP are cautioning the public about a GoFundMe campaign set up in the name of Const. Patton they say is a fraud, advising them to avoid donating to a Sam Joseph, or further sharing the campaign's information.
RCMP are asking anyone who has information on the whereabouts of the suspect truck, a white Ford F250 pick-up, in the community on Saturday prior to the incident that resulted in Const. Patton's death to come forward to Indian Head RCMP.
With files from Bryan Eneas