‘An absolute hero’: Thousands pay tribute to slain officer in procession from Vancouver to Burnaby

Thousands of first responders lined the streets Thursday morning in a procession stretching from Vancouver General Hospital to Burnaby Hospital to pay tribute to one of their own.

Const. Shaelyn Yang, 31, worked in the Burnaby RCMP detachment’s mental health and homeless outreach team and was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday.

“Constable Shaelyn Yang was an absolute hero in serving our community and doing the exact same thing that police officers across this country do every day,” Vancouver Police Department Chief Adam Palmer tells CTV News.

Yang was involved in an altercation at Broadview Park when she was fatally stabbed. A suspect was also shot.

The RCMP has provided few details about what took place in the park, citing an active investigation by B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, as well as a parallel investigation by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

“It’s an absolute tragedy,” says Palmer. “This has been an incident that’s hit police officers locally with our brothers and sisters in the RCMP in Vancouver but really all across this country.”

Five police officers have been killed in the line of duty across Canada over the last month, Palmer adds.

“We’re going to pay our respects and just show that we stand together as a profession and pay our respects to our family and brothers and sisters. We’re never going to forget Shaelyn Yang.”

Just one day after Yang’s death, a suspect was charged with first-degree murder.

The accused, Jongwon Ham, made a court appearance on Wednesday and was remanded in custody, the B.C. Prosecution Service confirmed in an email to CTV News.

Meanwhile, further tributes are being planned. While a date for Yang’s funeral hasn’t been finalized, the Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Ribbon Society wants big venues such as Rogers Arena, B.C. Place and Canada Place to light up blue the night before.

“We want to ensure that we do everything we can to ensure that she is remembered,” vice president Ross Gulkison told CTV News.

“I was very saddened and heartbroken,” he added.

Gulkison says they are also working with the Vancouver Canucks to organize a moment of silence before one of their upcoming home games.

He says all Canadians can do their part as well.

“Turn your blue lights on in your building if you have blue lights; it would be wonderful to see across Canada,” said Gulkison.

Blue and black ribbons will be worn by officers during Yang’s service. The public is invited to wear them as well. The ribbons are available by donation.  

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Regan Hasegawa

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