The funeral procession stretched almost a kilometre.
More than 4,000 police officers, firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers from across the continent had gathered in the Carleton University Fieldhouse before setting out down Sunnyside Avenue toward Bank Street behind a hearse carrying Const. Ireneusz (Eric) Czapnik’s body to Lansdowne Park.
At the intersection of Bronson and Sunnyside Avenues, Steve Lennon said he wanted to show his support for Czapnik and all police, who work in a dangerous environment every day.
As the procession moved closer to Lansdowne Park, the crowds of residents paying tribute to Czapnik, his fellow officers, and his family grew from dozens to hundreds, and from hundreds to thousands.
Air ambulance pilot Mike Smith said he works very closely with police and came out to pay his respects.
Nick Beaumaster, a first-year criminology student at the University of Ontario in Oshawa, said he hopes to work for the Ontario Provincial Police when he graduates. Beaumaster said he wanted to pay his respects to Const. Czapnik.
The senselessness of the incident, he said, should serve as a reminder that it could happen to anyone.
“It’s kind of shocking,” he said.
By the end of Sunnyside Avenue, the crowd was at least three people deep. Students from Hopewell Public School all came out to the street and waved Canadian flags and held up homemade posters as the procession solemnly passed the school.
Many more watched out the windows of the shops along Bank Street. Each had blue ribbon posters in the window.
As the procession crossed over the Bank Street Bridge, Karen Leveille struggled to stifle tears.
Her husband is an Ottawa police officer. Leveille, an emergency room nurse at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, said it was good to see the community come together, but that she felt very sad for Czapnik’s family.