“GENTLE GIANT” REMEMBERED: Const. Andrew Hong complained by colleagues

“I have to tell you – I’m struggling. This is a terrible tragedy that we will overcome”: Acting Superintendent Matt Moyer

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Toronto police officers are grieving on the job as they mourn a colleague described as a “gentle giant.”

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“He had a heart the size of his motorcycle helmet. He was a very giving person. I will miss him,” Matt Moyer, Acting of traffic services, told Const. Andrew Hong.

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Almost overcome with emotion at times, Supt. Moyer spoke fondly of Const. Hong, 48, who was killed in what was characterized as an “ambush” while having lunch at a cafe in Mississauga on Monday.

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

“This is a terrible tragedy that we will overcome,” he added, describing Const. Hong as a huge man — 6-foot-4 — who was a “teddy bear” who loved to work out.

His shooting death has devastated his squad.

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Premier Doug Ford offered words of condolence to officers gathered in the lobby of the traffic services office on Tuesday morning.

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“Our prayers and thoughts go out to his entire family, his wife Jenny and his two children, Jenny and Mia. The day is hard. Const. Hong was roughly shot in the back because he was wearing a uniform. I’m getting goosebumps talking to you guys. It’s hard,” Ford said. “This is a senseless tragedy and we just want to send a message to his family, but also to the greater police family, that we will always have their backs.” I don’t think there’s a person in Ontario who doesn’t feel a sense of loss. This is a senseless tragedy. A policeman was shot because he was wearing a police uniform.

A bouquet of roses sits on the main flagpoles, which are at half-staff in honor of slain Const.  Andrew Hong on Tuesday, September 13, 2022
A bouquet of roses sits on the main flagpoles, which are at half-staff in honor of slain Const. Andrew Hong on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN Photo by JACQUES 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’ll tell you, not one person in this building was late for work this morning.”

An OPP motorcycle officer is seen at Toronto Traffic Police as friends and officers comfort each other in the parking lot on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun
An OPP motorcycle officer is seen at Toronto Traffic Police as friends and officers comfort each other in the parking lot on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun

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

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“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 Winged Wheels, a specialized motorcycle team that, among other duties, provided security services for visiting VIPs.

Toronto Police Association president John Reid knows Hong personally.

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

“I attended with the boss yesterday. It was probably one of the most difficult moments of my life. I had to help notify the family, (Andrew’s) wife, two children and mother-in-law.’

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Police officers gather behind Sunnybrook Hospital on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, after a Toronto police officer was shot and killed in the Peel area.  JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Police officers gather behind Sunnybrook Hospital on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, after a Toronto police officer was shot and killed in the Peel area. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Officers, parking attendants, civilian staff and garage specialists in traffic services had close contact with the 22-year veteran.

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

Police Chaplain Hilary Alcock said support was crucial at a time like this.

“You can’t be well after something like this,” said the priest, who heard words of condolence from Prime Minister Ford. “He was emotional and spoke from the heart.”

Although nothing has been confirmed, Alcock said he has heard of a potential funeral next Wednesday.

“We are thinking of his wife and children. That’s the really sad part. Dad doesn’t come home anymore. This is the part that breaks your heart,” said the priest.

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

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