By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
Ottawa’s Police Chief called the scene at Barrhaven’s homicide two weeks ago an “active killer event” and a “house of horrors”, as he recounted what officers endured on that fatal night.
Speaking at the Ottawa Police Services Board meeting on Nov. 23, Police Chief Peter Sloly went over what happened on Nov. 15, when they responded to a call on Sherway Drive, which led to the city’s 15th homicide of the year.
“I’ve been to a lot of homicide scenes. I’m glad I didn’t go to that one, and I’m grateful for the members who did,” said an emotional Sloly, who paused multiple times during his verbal report. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to them (the officers) over the course of the long haul; I’m just incredibly grateful for their resilience in that moment.”
When police arrived on scene near the Walter Baker Centre at around 9:30 pm that snowy evening, they found 64-year-old Linda Frederick deceased, and her husband, Michael Sabourin, fighting for his life.
Sloly credited one of his officers, who he described as “very young… tall, handsome, fit, and very dedicated”, for keeping Sabourin alive. He performed “life saving first aid” alongside another officer after being the first to arrive on scene.
“He was able to get the information from the male victim who was still alive,” he said. “At that point, we weren’t sure if he was going to make it. We’re still not sure.”
When other emergency personnel arrived, the officer then entered the home where he found Fredrick deceased. The accused, 39-year-old Conor Donnelly, who this newspaper has learned is Frederick’s son, barricaded himself in the bathroom.
“The negotiations with the suspect, inside a house which can be best described as a house of horrors, took hours,” chief Sloly stated. “It took hours, immediate neighbours were evacuated, and for several hours we continued negotiations with this individual to get them to surrender safely without any other harm to themself or anybody else, including the members of the organization.”
Donnelly was arrested at about 1:45 am the next morning. According to Sloly, he was armed. A CBC News report has stated the accused allegedly suffers from schizophrenia. He’s been charged with one count of Second Degree Murder and another count of Attempted Murder.
When the sun rose, scenes of what was a fatal night were hard to miss. A white tarp tried to cover up the front steps of the couple’s home, where a pool of blood could be seen. A defibrillator sat nearby. Splatters of blood were also noticeable on the front door of the home and siding. It was a similar scene at the neighbouring home where Sabourin allegedly ran to call for help.
Because of what they witnessed that night, Sloly said many of his officers were left traumatized.
“It deeply impacted the call taker who received this call — literally a dying declaration,” he said. “And it impacted every one of the members of the emergency first responders, from police, fire, to ambulance.”
The police chief also described the countless resources which had to be dedicated to their investigation.
“Over the course of the next 36 hours, the aftermath of the event required even more police resources. Medical resources, hospital resources; it required the deployment of our forensic unit, criminal investigations homicide unit, victims services unit, as well as members health and wellness units to support those members that were literally in real time being traumatized by what they were experiencing and dealing with.”
The Barrhaven Independent has also learned that nearby Jockvale Elementary School worked with counsellors for their students who saw the scene on their way into class that morning.
Principal Robyn Darragh said: “the incident occurred in a home close to our school and some students may have walked past the crime scene as it was under investigation. I have been in touch with the OCDSB Tragic Event Response Team and I wanted to share with you some advice on how to support your children during this time.”
Sloly said he has visited with the platoon that responded to the call that evening. They are the same group of people who helped save a nine month old baby who was abducted from their mother this summer.
“I can tell you with all honesty that the platoon was involved in two calls for service that I’ve never seen in my years of policing, and they resolved both of them safely,” he said. “You can go your entire 30 year career and never have one of those calls. That is the quality of policing in this city that never gets proper due in these meetings or any other meetings I’m aware of.”