Canada

Slain officer's wife feared she'd be at his funeral

Thousands of police officers gather in Wingham, Ont., to pay their final respects to OPP Const. Vu Pham, who was shot and killed in the line of duty this week.
Thousands of police officers gather at the Wingham community centre for the funeral of Ontario Provicial Police officer Vu Pham in Wingham, Ont. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

The widow of OPP Const. Vu Pham, who was shot and killed in the line of duty this week, said she had always dreamed and feared that one day she would be speaking at her husband's funeral.

Heather Pham made her first public comments about the death of her husband at a ceremony in his honour as thousands of police officers joined friends and family members at a Wingham, Ont., community centre to pay their final respects.

She described her husband as "brave and amazing" and the most hands-on dad to their three sons she has ever seen, taking them hunting, fishing or playing hockey.

She also referred to Fred Preston, the suspect in his shooting. While not mentioning him by name, she said that God forgives all and hoped that others would offer their forgiveness as well.

Heather Pham and her boys Jordan, 10, Tyler, 12, and Joshua, 7, left to right, enter the Wingham community center for the funeral of her husband and their father. ((Dave Chidley/Canadian Press))

The family are devout Christians and the theme of faith and how it would help them cope with their loss came up throughout the funeral.

The children also paid an emotional tribute to their father and their love of hunting.

Heather Pham had written in a funeral guide that "Monday morning began like any other day for us, full of life and promise."

"Vu was the love of our life. Little did we know that our last goodbye was our final goodbye, forever.

"Today begins another journey for us. I know and feel in my heart that Vu is watching over all of us and will be with us until we meet again in heaven."

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino called Pham "a modern day hero" who courageously put himself in harm's way to honour his oath of duty.

Earlier, a sea of blue and red officers stood in silence Friday as Pham's  grim-faced colleagues slowly carried his Ontario-flag-draped coffin into the community centre where the service was being held.

Following the service, the thousands of officers who had stood silently outside during the service, marched through the streets of Wingham, a town of about 3,000, and lined up along the side of the road to salute as the funeral procession went by.  

Busloads of officers from across Canada had descended on the southwestern Ontario town where the funeral was being held.

Const. Vu Pham, 37, of the Ontario Provincial Police was fatally shot Monday near Seaforth, Ont. ((OPP/Canadian Press))

The funeral came a day after Preston, the suspect in the slaying, died in hospital after being shot several times in a shootout with police.

Pham and two other officers had tried to pull over a pickup truck when they were confronted by an armed man. Pham, a 15-year OPP veteran, was shot and the driver and officers exchanged gunfire.

Pham died several hours after being flown to London's Health Sciences Centre, with his wife and three children — Tyler, 12, Jordan, 10, and Joshua, 7 — at his side.

Pham, originally from Vietnam, was taken in as a boy by Dan Thompson, a southwestern Ontario pastor who later moved to northern Ontario, where Pham and his three new siblings were raised.

Pham is the force's 104th officer to be killed in the line of duty since its inception 100 years ago. 

With files from The Canadian Press