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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Mountie who died in line of duty had 'a love of life:' Moncton pastor

Cst. Dave Joseph Ross

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Cst. Dave Joseph Ross (RCMP / THE CANADIAN PRESS )

MONCTON, N.B. - A Mountie who died in the line of duty was remembered Saturday by a pastor as a family man with an endearing personality who met his wife at church.

Jerry Reddy of the Hillside Baptist Church in Moncton, N.B., said Const. Dave Ross had "a love of life."

"His smile, the warmth of his personality, his sincere spirit," said Reddy in a telephone interview. "The way that he connected with people ... he was just a wonderful person to be in his company."

Ross, 32, was one of three officers shot and killed Wednesday evening in Moncton. The other two victims were Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, originally of Boulogne-Billancourt in France, and Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, of Saint John, N.B.

A native of Victoriaville, Que., Ross joined the RCMP from Ottawa after graduation in July 2007 and was posted to the detachment based in Moncton as a general duty police officer.

After moving to the area, Ross started attending the baptist church, where he met his wife Rachael, said Reddy.

"It's sort of a wonderful love story. He actually met Rachael in one of our Bible study groups," he said, adding that Ross had an 18-month old son named Austin and another baby due in the fall.

"He loved Rachael and he loved being a dad."

Ross also loved being a police dog handler, said Reddy, and wore his red serge with pride.

"The way he went about his job, it wasn't just a job, it was a calling and an opportunity to serve people," said Reddy.

A friend of Gevaudan's described him Saturday as a firearm enthusiast and a dedicated RCMP officer who always wore a smile on his face.

Mo Hepworth, a firearms instructor with the International Practical Shooting Confederation in Moncton, said Gevaudan was a student in a shooting course that he taught in April 2012. They travelled to several sport shooting events together, he said.

"He was always smiling," said Hepworth in a phone interview from his home in Upper Coverdale, just outside Moncton. "He was very polite. Whenever we were on the range, he was very considerate.

"He wanted to learn more about firearm usage in a different aspect than maybe what he was trained."

Gevaudan was born in France and joined the RCMP in Regina. After his graduation from the training academy on Feb. 11, 2008, he was posted to the detachment in Moncton as a general duty police officer.

Hepworth said Gevaudan had a keen interest in firearms and even built his own gun.

"I think he enjoyed the comradery," said Hepworth of the confederation. "But he always put work first. He was pretty dedicated."

Hepworth said he recalls an occasion when Gevaudan may have saved his life. The pair were travelling back to Moncton from a shooting match and Hepworth asked Gevaudan to drive because he was too tired to drive himself.

"All of a sudden, he veered into the centre of the road, and then veered back out off to the right, almost onto the curb. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the moose. Not one, but two," said Hepworth.

"He avoided it, and he swerved back in to avoid another one. We cheated death there. If you hit a moose in a Toyota Corolla, it's game over."

Larche, the third Mountie who was killed on Wednesday, worked in Miramichi and Doaktown before he joined the detachment in the Moncton area.

He was a highway patrol and general duty officer who received a commander's commendation six years ago for saving the life of an unconscious baby in Moncton. He had been a member of the RCMP for 12 years.

Joe Carr, a flight nurse with Ambulance New Brunswick, remembered Larche on Friday as someone who helped him when he was a rebellious teenager in Doaktown.

"So many of these officers are really involved in the community," he said. "They do a lot for people who never get a chance to say thanks. I did get the chance. He's going to be missed so much. He was an awesome guy."

— By Aly Thomson in Halifax

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