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'GENTLE GIANT' REMEMBERED: Const. Andrew Hong mourned by colleagues

Toronto Sun logo Toronto Sun 2022-09-14 Scott Laurie
Const. Andrew Hong at the Waterfront Marathon. © Provided by Toronto Sun Const. Andrew Hong at the Waterfront Marathon.
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Toronto Police officers are grieving on the job as they mourn a colleague described as a “gentle giant.”

“He had the heart the size of his motorcycle helmet. He was a very giving person. I’m going to miss him,” Matt Moyer, Acting Supt. of Traffic Services, said of Const. Andrew Hong.

At times close to overcome with emotion, Supt. Moyer spoke fondly of Const. Hong, 48, who was killed in what has been characterized as an “ambush” while he ate lunch at a Mississauga coffee shop on Monday.

“I have to tell you, I’m struggling,” Moyer said.

“This is a terrible tragedy which we will work through,” he added, decribing Const. Hong as a huge man — 6-foot-4 — who was “a teddy bear” who loved working out.

His shooting death has devastated his unit.

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Premier Doug Ford expressed words of condolence to officers gathered in the lobby at Traffic Services on Tuesday morning.

“Our prayers and thoughts go out to his entire family, his wife Jenny and his two kids, Alex and Mia. It’s a tough day. Const. Hong was blatantly shot in the back for wearing a uniform. I am just getting chills talking to you guys. It’s tough,” Ford said. “It’s a senseless tragedy and we just want to send the message to his family but also the larger police family that we will always have their backs. I don’t think there’s a person in Ontario that is out there that’s not feeling a loss. It’s a senseless tragedy. A police officer gets shot because he’s wearing a police uniform.”

 A bouquet of roses sits at the main flag poles that are at half-mast in honour slain Const. Andrew Hong on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN © JACK BOLAND A bouquet of roses sits at the main flag poles that are at half-mast in honour slain Const. Andrew Hong on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Const. Hong’s colleagues appreciated the gesture.

“It shakes the confidence of these guys a little bit. It’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are,” said Supt. Moyer. “But I will tell you, not one person in this building was late for work this morning.”

 An OPP motorcycle officer is seen at Toronto Police Traffic Services while friends and employees console each other in the parking lot on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun An OPP motorcycle officer is seen at Toronto Police Traffic Services while friends and employees console each other in the parking lot on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun

Hong’s family released a photo from when he graduated police college.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support,” the family said in a statement. “Andrew was magnetic. He was a man of steel on the outside, with a warm teddy bear personality on the inside. His personality was larger than life.”

He was a member of the ‘Winged Wheels’ — a specialized motorcycle team that, among other duties, provided protective services for visiting VIPs.

Toronto Police Association president Jon Reid knew Hong personally.

“He was always a very happy officer. Always a huge smile on his face. And always a very well respected police officer,” Reid said.

“I attended with the chief yesterday. It was probably one of the most difficult times in my life. I had to assist in the notification of the family, (Andrew’s) wife, and two children, and mother-in-law.”

 Police officers gather at the rear of Sunnybrook hospital on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022 after a Toronto Police officer was shot and killed in Peel Region. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN Police officers gather at the rear of Sunnybrook hospital on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022 after a Toronto Police officer was shot and killed in Peel Region. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Officers, parking officials, civilian staff, and garage specialists at Traffic Services had close contact with the 22-year veteran.

“Many of our members are still in shock and in disbelief,” Reid said. “This officer didn’t even have the opportunity to defend himself.”

Police Chaplain Hillar Alkok said support is crucial at a time like this.

“You can’t be fine after something like this,” said the chaplain, who heard the words of condolence from Premier Ford. “He was emotional and he spoke from his heart.”

Although nothing has been confirmed, Alkok said has heard of potential for a funeral next Wednesday.

“We think of his wife and children. That’s the really sad part. Dad isn’t coming home anymore. That’s the part that breaks your heart,” the chaplain said.

“It’s not like it was provoked. He was just minding his own business having a coffee at Tim Hortons.”

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