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Colleagues, friends reflect on fallen Manitoulin Island OPP officer

A retired OPP officer and former colleague of Constable Marc Hovingh says all of Ontario’s Manitoulin Island is in a state of shock today after his death.

The 28-year veteran of the police force died of his injuries Thursday after he was shot while responding to a trespassing call near the island community of Gore Bay. A civilian is also dead, according to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ontario’s police watchdog.

Allan Boyd worked with Hovingh for 20 years, before Boyd retired from the OPP five years ago. Boyd said responding to a trespassing call is common for police on Manitoulin Island, since there’s a lot of privately owned property.

LISTEN | More details emerge day after deadly Manitoulin Island shooting: 

Morning North5:36OPP officer shot to death in the line of duty on Manitoulin Island

investigators are trying to figure out what happened in the bush outside of Gore Bay that left a police officer and another man dead. Those who knew Constable Marc Hovingh are also searching for answers of their own. The CBC’s Erik White joined us with the latest on the story… 5:36

Shooting shocks community

The tragic ending has come as a shock to everyone, Boyd said.

“This is unheard of for a small community. As officers we all realize that it can happen anywhere — it’s not just the big cities, but it can be rural Ontario.

“We don’t want to think about it,” he said, adding it’s always in the back of an officer’s mind.

Whatever the OPP decides to plan for a funeral, Boyd said he would attend as his friend deserves a proper sendoff.

LISTEN | Death of OPP officer called ‘devastating’ and ‘tragic’:

Morning North6:24Two people are dead after a shooting near Gore Bay

Two people are dead… one a civilian and the other a police officer after a shooting incident in Gore Bay. The repercussions are being felt in the community and across the province. CBC reporter Ellen Mauro spoke about the incident with the mayor of Gore Bay and a representative of the Ontario Provincial Police Association. 6:24

The mayor of Gore Bay says the community is reeling.

Mayor Dan Osborne said news of the incident spread quickly through the small island town, which is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and the loss is “devastating.” 

The SIU said Thursday it is investigating the shooting, which took place after the OPP officers were called to a Gore Bay property. The watchdog said the call was related to an “unwanted man” on the property.

Hovingh was shot dead after he arrived, the SIU said, while the man on the property died in hospital.

mindemoya missionary church
Mindemoya Missionary Church, which Marc Hovigh attended for 20 years, opened its doors for prayers hours after the constable was killed. (Erik White/CBC)

Hovingh remembered as ‘gentle giant’

Hovingh, 52, was married with four children.

Hours after he died, mourners gathered — physically distanced — at the Mindemoya Missionary Church, which Hovingh attended for 20 years.

Ben Quackenbush said the first thing people would notice about Hovingh was his size, but he “never used that to be intimidating. He was always a gentle giant and a big teddy bear.”

Quackenbush said Hovingh was a model police officer and Christian who would entertain kids at the church on Sundays and loved to take people out on his boat.

“Joyful, I think when I think of Marc. He was always smiling and he was always laughing.”

Tributes to Hovingh have been flowing across social media.

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