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Barrie sports hero shot and killed in the line of duty

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“He wanted to be a police man forever.”

After just one year on the force, Const. Grzegorz (Greg) Pierzchala, died as an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

Pierzchala was shot while responding to a call about a vehicle in a ditch at the intersection of Concession 14 and Indian Line on the border of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Tuesday, Dec. 27.

He was 28 years old.

The young man, who hailed from Barrie, is remembered well by his teachers and coaches.

Pierzchala’s St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School teacher, Anne Goorts, said he had always focused on becoming an officer.

The teacher at the west-end Barrie school admitted she’s “been levelled by the news of his passing.”

Goorts not only taught Pierzchala, she was his wrestling coach as well.

“I want my own son to be become like him,” said Goorts through tears.

“You wish your own child could be that kind, considerate, hard-working and thoughtful,” she said.

Pierzchala played soccer, was an avid swimmer and wrestled with the Kempenfelt Bay Athletic Club, said another wrestling coach Nicholas Cryer.

“He was a phenomenal athlete,” said Cryer. “I remember one year, he went to the OFSSAs (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations). He competed in swimming in the morning and then booted up the highway to wrestle. I believe he won some medals, too.”

“He was super polite, always saying ‘sir’ or ‘madam.’ I can’t remember him ever losing his temper – he was just a nice, polite kid,” Cryer said.

Police arrested two people in connection to Pierzchala’s death.

Randall McKenzie and Brandi Stewart-Sperry are both charged with first-degree murder in the death of Const. Pierzchala. Both made brief appearances via video link in a Cayuga court Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” said Cryer. “I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to hurt him.”

 

A joint statement from the staff at St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board reads:

Greg graduated from St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie in 2012. In his four years at the school, he made an enduring and positive impact, and he is fondly remembered by all those who knew him.

He was very involved in school life - excelling in academics and athletics, and even achieved senior athlete of the year after qualifying for OFSAA in swimming and wrestling and participating in soccer, track and field, weight training and rowing. Greg exemplified Christian leadership in all aspects of his life and faithfully attended Mass at Holy Spirit Parish. He was always thoughtful, considerate, kind and followed his heart - he was the kind of guy who was committed to doing the right thing.

Greg was an inspiration and positive influence to all, even as a young high school student, because he approached his life with incredible determination, compassion and joy. It is not surprising that he followed a career path of service to others.

The St. Joan of Arc community and all of those he knew him will miss him greatly, but the legacy he left will not be forgotten. As a community, we will continue to pray for Greg’s family that they may find some comfort and peace during this difficult time.

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