TORONTO — Police officers from across Canada and the U.S. gave solemn salutes Wednesday to the funeral cortege for a Toronto constable who was killed in a recent series of shootings, as the procession paid tribute to his career with the force's motorcycle unit.
A service to celebrate the life of Const. Andrew Hong is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. at the Toronto Congress Centre, where Hong's loved ones, officials, fellow members of the Toronto Police Service, other police and emergency services personnel from many other jurisdictions were expected to attend and pay tribute.
By mid-morning, motorcycle officers acting as honourary pallbearers accompanied the hearse along quiet Toronto streets as the funeral procession began.
Hundreds of uniformed officers from police forces across Canada and the U.S. lined the streets along the route to salute the procession as it passed.
Interim Toronto police chief James Ramer was among the officers who saluted Hong outside the building as the hearse arrived carrying a casket draped in a Canadian flag. The procession arrived shortly after four planes from the Waterloo Warbirds group made up of active and retired police officers performed a "missing man" flyover in a tribute to Hong.
At the funeral, eulogies are expected from Hong's wife Jenny and daughter Mia, along with tributes from Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, interim Toronto police chief James Ramer and Toronto Police Association president Jon Reid.
"TPS extends its gratitude for the support and condolences received from the public since the death of Constable Andrew Hong," the police force said in a statement.
Hong was shot dead last week while on break during a training session in Mississauga, Ont., in what police are calling an ambush attack.
Another person was injured in the Mississauga shooting and police say the same suspect then shot three people at an auto body shop in Milton, Ont., killing two and injuring one, before being shot and killed by police in Hamilton.
Hong, 48, was a 22-year veteran of the force and a traffic services officer who worked with a highly specialized motorcycle unit that provides security escorts for dignitaries such as prime ministers and presidents.
The father of two began his policing career in 2000, moved to traffic services two years later and "found his passion in the Motor Squad" in 2008, Toronto Police Services said.
Biographical notes from the force described Hong as "extremely passionate about his work" and said he excelled in his role as a motorcycle instructor, where he helped train other officers.
The loss of the collegial and well-liked officer who "loved to laugh with his colleagues" has "left a void" for the entire police service, the force said.
"(Hong) always made his presence known and put a smile on everyone’s face," the force said. "He will be missed immensely, but will live on through memories and stories."
The funeral proceedings are closed to the public but can be viewed by an online live stream on the Toronto Police Service's YouTube channel or on local television stations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2022.
Tyler Griffin and Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press