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ONTARIO: Innisfil police officers didn't draw firearms before they were fatally shot: watchdog

The Special Investigations Unit made the determination following an investigation
Police and SIU investigators gather at the scene where two police officers were killed in Innisfil, Ont., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey

INNISFIL, Ont. — Ontario's police watchdog says officers who died responding to a call at an Innisfil, Ont., home on Tuesday did not draw their firearms before they were fatally shot.

A spokeswoman for the Special Investigations Unit says a third officer who was also at the home exchanged gunfire with the 23-year-old man, who also died.

The third officer was not injured.

An autopsy for the young man identified as Chris Doncaster by a source close to the investigation -- who was not authorized to speak publicly -- is scheduled for Friday.

The Department of National Defence confirmed that a man named Christopher Joseph Doncaster was a Canadian Armed Forces member from May to December 2020.

The Defence Department says Doncaster was a private who was never deployed and did not complete basic training. 

The South Simcoe Police Service has identified the officers who died as Const. Devon Northrup, 33, and Const. Morgan Russell, 54.

The SIU said the police officers were responding to a call from a family member about a disturbance at a home. 

There was an exchange of gunfire, the Special Investigations Unit said, and the officers later died in hospital. The 23-year-old man died in the home.

The SIU has said the gun the young man used was an SKS semi-automatic rifle.

Residents who live in the area have expressed shock at what happened. Some said an elderly couple who had an adult grandson lived in the house where the shooting took place.

South Simcoe police said words cannot describe the grief the force is experiencing.

Northrup, a six-year member of the South Simcoe Police Service, worked with the community mobilization and engagement unit, and also served as a member of the mental health crisis outreach team and the emergency response unit. He is survived by his partner and parents, police said.

Russell, a father of two, was a 33-year veteran of the force. He was a trained crisis negotiator and was assigned to uniform patrol, the police service said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.

The Canadian Press