First responders pay tribute to B.C. RCMP officer killed in line of duty


Thousands of first responders lined the streets in Vancouver and Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday to honour the life of Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang, who died Tuesday in the line of duty. 

Yang, 31, was responding to a call about a tent in a local park when she was fatally stabbed. 

“She was a loving wife, a sister, and a daughter,” Dwayne McDonald, the deputy commissioner of the B.C. RCMP, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Those she worked with before joining the RCMP and her police colleagues described Const. Yang as a kind and compassionate person, which makes her death even more difficult to accept … Her loss is immeasurable.”

WATCH | First responders line streets to pay tribute to fallen Burnaby RCMP officer

First responders line streets to pay tribute to fallen Burnaby RCMP officer

Thousands of police and other first responders lined the streets as the body of RCMP officer Const. Shaelyn Yang was transported between Vancouver General Hospital and Burnaby Hospital Thursday morning.

The procession made its way from Vancouver General Hospital to Burnaby Hospital.

Another procession is planned for Thursday evening from Burnaby Hospital to Surrey.

On Friday, a procession from Surrey to Richmond is planned for 2 p.m. PT. Burnaby RCMP says it is not making the routes public.

“We thank the public for their patience during these times,” the force said in a news release.

‘Many teenagers saw her as a role model’

Members of British Columbia’s Taiwanese Canadian community are also paying tribute to the Burnaby Mountie.

William Tsai, a resident of Richmond, B.C., says he got to know Yang, who also went by the given name Tzu-Hsin, four years ago when she was a civilian volunteer working on raising mental health awareness among teenagers.

Const. Shaelyn Yang of the Burnaby, B.C., RCMP was killed in the line of duty Tuesday morning. Yang was declared dead in hospital after she was stabbed during an altercation. (B.C. RCMP)

“Her passion and dedication to lifting up others shone through when I met her years ago,” said Tsai in an interview conducted in Mandarin.

“Her volunteering services left teenagers feeling inspired with goals of making a difference in others’ lives, just like her. Many teenagers saw her as a role model.”

He says the death of the 31-year-old officer has left the community heartbroken but proud.

“We felt heartbroken upon hearing the tragic news but also proud of her because of her contributions to Canada,” he said.

Yang, who was a homeless and mental health outreach officer, was partnered with a municipal worker on Tuesday when she was fatally stabbed in an altercation at a homeless campsite in Burnaby, east of Vancouver.

McDonald said she had been a police officer since 2019.

Parents flying from Taiwan to Canada for funeral

Ruby Ba, the president of the B.C.’s Taiwanese Canadian Association, says the community will do whatever it can to support Yang’s family and has been in contact with the RCMP about holding a memorial in her honour.

“The Taiwanese community has been talking about paying tribute to Const. Yang … We will be there whenever and wherever we can to help out.

“Right now, we are just waiting to see if there are any further announcements released to the public by the police,” said Ba.

Flowers are pictured at the Burnaby RCMP detachment in memory of Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang who was killed on duty in Burnaby, British Columbia on Oct. 18. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan’s de facto diplomatic office in Vancouver, says Yang was the daughter of immigrants from Taichung in central Taiwa and her parents will fly from Taiwan to Vancouver to attend Yang’s funeral.

“We have been in contact with the family and will provide all assistance and support to the family,” said a spokesperson.

Tsai says community members hope to hold a memorial next month to pay tribute to Yang’s contributions to Canada.

Suspect in court Nov. 2

Jongwon Ham has been charged with first-degree murder and is expected to make a court appearance on Nov. 2.

Court records show Ham was wanted for separate assaults in Vancouver and a warrant for his arrest was issued Monday, the day before the fatal altercation.

On Wednesday, Sgt. Timothy Pierotti of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said Yang was not at the park to execute the warrant. Instead, she was helping the city employee inform Ham — the occupant of a lone tent in the park — that he could not stay there, he said.

Ham was charged with assault March 17.

A lone tent is pictured among forensic markers at the scene where Burnaby RCMP officer Shaelyn Yang was killed at Broadview Park in Burnaby, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Vancouver Police Department said in a statement that officers responded that day to a 911 call about “an agitated man allegedly making anti-Muslim comments,” at a downtown food court. The man had allegedly assaulted a security guard.

Ham was arrested and officers discovered he also had a warrant for his arrest.

On Feb. 15, 2021, Vancouver police records also show officers responded to report of a man who allegedly made racial slurs before kicking someone in the face near in Chinatown. Police located the suspect fighting with another man nearby, they said, and the suspect resisted arrest.

Court records show Ham was charged with assault and resisting a peace officer.

The Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby issued a statement describing Yang’s death as “a tragic loss for the community.”

“Having experienced Constable Yang’s care for the community and seeing her compassion for those she worked in and among, we have only the highest praise for her,” the statement said.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta-Canadian Press News Fellowship, which is not involved in the editorial process.

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