EDMONTON—The Star has identified the teenager who shot two Edmonton police officers as Roman Zoltan Shewchuk — a 16-year-old who a family friend says was “very troubled” and seemed to be struggling.
The shooting last week claimed the lives of Edmonton constables Travis Jordan, 35, and Brett Ryan, 30.
Shewchuk’s mother Katya Nod, 55, was also shot during the altercation. She was said to be in stable but serious condition, but no public update has been given since a police media availability Friday.
After shooting the officers and his mother, Shewchuk turned the gun on himself and died, police have said.
Details about the family are slowly starting to emerge but remain scarce, and authorities have kept information under wraps since the incident occurred after midnight last Thursday.
Through court records, interviews with residents of the northwest Edmonton apartment complex where the shootings took place and friends of the family, the Star has been able to confirm the identities of the shooter and his mother.
Many questions remain about the incident and what led up to it, but the details uncovered by the Star begin to paint the picture that will be crucial to understanding the tragic events of last week.
Evan Oddleifson, a neighbour, met Shewchuk’s mother in a park one night about a year ago and struck up a friendship. Oddleifson said the two would speak often and that he knew Nod’s three children, including 16-year-old Shewchuk.
Although he didn’t interact with Shewchuk much, the teenager was “very, very troubled,” said Oddleifson.
Police say officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call at the sprawling apartment complex with some two dozen buildings just after midnight last Thursday morning. Residents told the Star that a woman had run to neighbours for help with a situation involving her son.
Police have said there was at least one mental health call to the apartment prior to Thursday’s shooting.
Oddleifson, a policy researcher, characterized the interactions between the family and the health-care system as “constant.”
“She tried very hard to be a great mother to all three of her children, but it was certainly strained with her youngest,” he added.
Few details can be gleaned from Shewchuk’s online presence. He has a handful of Facebook friends with a profile suggesting that he enjoyed video games.
Other details about the family situation are sparse. Darlene Blyan, Nod’s neighbour, said she believed Nod came to Canada from Ukraine years ago, but Oddleifson said she had been living in Ukraine and moved to Canada more recently, after the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Her family had been here prior, but, you know, she’s a single 55-year-old mother of three and she had been trying to convince her mom to leave Ukraine; her mom was staunchly staying. She wouldn’t leave the homeland,” he said.
Police said a 73-year-old man was also in the unit when the shooting occurred. One nearby resident identified the man as Nod’s ex-husband, who was staying there.
According to divorce records obtained by the Star, Nod (whose legal name at the time of the divorce was Kateryna Shewchuk) married Ronald Shewchuk in Edmonton on Jan. 26, 2003. They separated in 2013 and finalized their divorce in 2016.
The court records say that Nod (her surname at birth) was born in Tyachevo, Ukraine. But in 2016, she had an Edmonton address listed — the same address her husband listed. Roman Shewchuk is the only child of the marriage noted in the documents and was born on April 2, 2006. He was weeks away from turning 17 when he died.
In 2015 court records, Shewchuk is listed as living with his mother in Edmonton.
It’s unclear for how long Nod lived in Edmonton or Ukraine and when, or if, she decided to permanently move to Canada.
Oddleifson described Nod as “strong” and “independent.” She was very focused on being a good mother to her children, he added.
The shootings have stunned the Alberta capital. While the two deaths bring the number of officers killed in the line of duty across the country to seven since September, they’re the first police killing to hit Edmonton since a hate crime investigator was shot during an arrest in 2015.
A GoFundMe organized by the Edmonton Police Foundation that will be divided between the two families sat at just shy of its goal of $400,000 as of Wednesday morning, the goal having been increased a handful of times as donations poured in from across North America. (Among the donations is $1,000 from Claire Woodall, the wife of Const. Daniel Woodall, the officer killed eight years ago.)
The bodies of constables Jordan and Ryan were taken to a funeral home Tuesday, travelling as part of a convoy of police enforcement vehicles as residents lined the roads.
“I can’t remember when I’ve cried that much,” said Ashif Mawji, chair of the Edmonton Police Foundation, who was among those who gathered to watch the procession.
“Everybody around me was in tears, people that were obviously not in law enforcement or first responders, they were just community members and they took the time to come out and pay their respects.”
On the night of the shootings, officers responding to the woman’s call for help accompanied her to her apartment where constables Jordan and Ryan were shot multiples times by the 16-year-old and “immediately incapacitated” before they could draw their own weapons, according to police. While the youth was known to police — he had never been charged with an offence — authorities say the officers had no indication that he had a gun that night.
Darlene Blyan, who lived across the hall from Shewchuk and Nod, identified the two in a Facebook photo as the pair she’d come across in the building from time to time. Michael Mensthom, who was smoking outside his apartment building when Nod came to him for help that night, also identified Nod’s Facebook photo as the woman he saw.
“My son, he wants to kill me,” Mensthom said she told him.
Investigators have declined to say what kind of weapon was used and say they continue to investigate how it fell into the hands of an underage shooter.
“It’s not being investigated as any type of ideologically-motivated offence at this time; there’s nothing to indicate that,” Devin Laforce, deputy chief of the EPS Investigations Bureau, told media on Friday.
“But certainly it is consistent with what is an ambush.”
Police have also said they’re investigating if there is a connection between last Thursday’s shooting and one that took place at a nearby Pizza Hut days prior. Some media reports have suggested that police believe the shooter who killed the two officers is the same who shot a Pizza Hut employee, leaving him in serious condition.
A public regimental funeral is scheduled for Monday.