As Beth Evans watched the funeral procession for Toronto Constable Andrew Hong, waiting for her two children who were members of an accompanying band, she reflected on the reality of police work.
Hong was just like everyone else, who should be at home with his family, not killed in an “unfortunate” twist of fate, she said.
“I think I want him to be remembered as a hero,” Evans said. “An everyday guy who really had unfortunate circumstances. He would have been a part of the Korean community, a father, and a hero of a husband.”
The funeral on Sept. 21 at the Toronto Congress Centre on Dixon Road was one day before the 21st wedding anniversary of Hong and his wife, Jenny. She said her husband had two great loves in his life.
“He had the Toronto Police Service, and he had his family,” she told mourners.
For every emergency services worker who attended the funeral, Jenny took the time to thank them.
“I thank you for your sacrifice and your support,” she said. “I know that you are all grieving for him too.”
Hong’s daughter, Mia, spoke at the funeral and said her father was a hero to her and her biggest supporter.
Flags were lowered at half mast as Hong’s funeral was held at the centre. There were 8,000 attendees, including his family, friends and emergency services workers from across North America.
He was remembered as someone who was kind and respected in the community he served.
Lisa Ricciardi was in the crowd around the Toronto Congress Centre. She wanted Hong to be remembered in the police community for the kind man he was.
“Nobody deserved to die like that,” Ricciardi said. “He did not deserve to be murdered like that. He is a hero. Listen to the words that are spoken [of] him. He is the man of the people. He had a big smile on his face.”
She said that Hong was the shining star of what policing should be.
“He is the man of the police,” she said. “And he is the person who you want in the police.”
Hong was taking a lunch break in Mississauga following a training session on Sept. 12 when the 22-year veteran was gunned down at close range by suspect Sean Petrie, 40. The gunman later killed Milton garage owner Shakeel Ashraf, 38, and employee and Conestoga international student Satwinder Singh, 28. Two others were injured.
Hong’s funeral procession was followed by a band that marched past in a tribute to the police and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The honorary pallbearers were Capt. Do Kim with the Royal Canadian Air Force and Detective Nadar Khishbooi from Traffic Services. They carried the casket with the Chief’s Ceremonial Unit to the hearse.
The pain was felt by the active serving emergency services, all the way down to the students who will soon pick up the torch and carry on the legacy Hong leaves behind.
Humber students in the Police Foundation program were left reflecting on the profession they will soon enter.
Neha Singh, a Police Foundation student at Lakeshore campus, said she will continue to work towards making the community a better place.
“The way he lost his life, it was very tragic,” Singh said. “I don’t know what role I’m going to be playing in the future, but whatever I can do to make things better, I’m going to try to do that.”