At Const. Andrew Hong’s funeral, grief for a family man who was living his dream

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As a young Toronto constable, Andrew Hong would lead his new wife, Jenny, to police events and point to a group of officers. Those cops, Hong told him, were an elite group—a special group of motorcycle officers known as the Winged Wheels. She knew he was wanted in his club.

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It was no secret. Early in his 22-year career with the Toronto Police, Hong told everyone that it was his dream to work in the traffic services division of the force. He was “a man on a mission,” acting superintendent. Matthew Moyer said Wednesday, and it took only a few years for that dream to come true.

Better yet, he was soon in the motor squad—the crew with whom he would learn and later teach others to ride a motorcycle of their choice; He sometimes marveled at the fact that he was paid to ride one.


“Whenever he came home his eyes flashed like lights and sirens,” Jenny Hong told a sea of ​​her husband’s bereaved colleagues, who had gathered inside Etobicoke’s Toronto Congress Center to honor him. “So I knew he was happy there.”

Hong, 48, died in the line of duty on September 12, one of three men shot by a lone gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Mississauga and Milton, before being shot and killed by police in Hamilton. Earlier In uniform, Hong was shot at close range by the shooter, Sean Petrie, and died inside a Mississauga Tim Hortons, his colleague. Investigators say Petrie may have been targeting one police officer in particular.

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Hong, as it became clear in a series of tributes on Wednesday, spent his final day doing what he loved. He was instructing a motorcycle operating course, what Jenny saw was giving him a “new sense of energy”. In particular, he had offered to buy coffee for his colleagues.

“Being an instructor was where he was,” said Jenny, dressed in a black dress surrounded by a string of pearls. “He was really good at it. He really enjoyed helping others.”

Hong “cared for the people he loved,” his daughter Mia said in an emotional tribute, which pacified a crowd of thousands, including officials and dignitaries. It was a eulogy he would be proud to see – “He would be in the front row, recording me on his phone, sitting with my family where I was sitting, with a big smile on his face,” said Mia .

The teenager thanked the members of her father’s beloved motor unit, the officers who guarded her outside her house and those who made her funeral arrangements. The grief over the death of his father, she said, was shared. “You are the one he came to work every day to see and I know you are sad with us.”

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Tributes to Hong attracted an estimated 6,000 attendees from 89 police services across North America. It was a serious televised affair that, previously, would have closed roads to allow a snake funeral procession and rows of uniformed officers marched in lockstep, accompanied by the sound of pipers and drummers.

Tributes from relatives, colleagues and dignitaries painted a rich portrait of a joyful and devoted man, inside and outside the uniform. Outside of policing, Hong had a range of interests and hobbies—he was a “Star Wars” fan, a foodie, and an animal lover. He was a grown man with the heart to match; When he hugged you, a friend commented, “You felt it for a week.”

Most important, he was a proud husband to Jenny and father to Mia, 17, and Alex, 15—the kind of dad who sent cute memes and taught you to drive, and a “cool” uncle who hooked up with video games. The basement was stocked. Mia said, with a career he loved, an amazing wife and two “overgrown” kids, “my father is the epitome of everything I want to be.”

“In my early years, it was a lot to lift and hit the gym. But as he got older, his muscles and his love for cars turned into his love for his wife and kids,” Mia said.

“He went from a stick-shift Volkswagen GTI to an eight-seat minivan.”

Since Hong’s death, officers have been a frequent presence at Hong’s home, a place where photos of family vacations hang on the walls and over the years the soaring heights of Alex and Mia on the kitchen door frame by Hong. Was marked, Sup said. Peter Codd, who served as MC at Wednesday’s funeral.

Widow Jenny Hong and her children follow Mia and Alex Konst's motorcycle.  Andrew Hong on a trailer that follows Chariot to his funeral.

Code said that when she asked Jenny what photos the family wanted to share, she snapped a photo of Hong from her police graduate she’d drawn for the past 22 years. When he removed it, he found one of Hong’s written messages, the kind of code that said Hong would go to his wife “without any special occasion”.

“Dear Jenny,” the message read in part. “Thank you for always being there for me and showing me the right one.”

Moyer, Hong’s boss of traffic services, said that in focusing so proudly on his family, he was “the person at our job who showed the balance.”

Const's coffin.  Andrew Hong has been taken to the Toronto Congressional Center.

He was also a practical clown, Moyer said. Recently, he joked that the unit needed a new fleet of BMW motorcycles, so Moyer asked him to do the paperwork and leave a request at his desk. A few days later, a yellow sticky note appeared from Hong: “Requires BMW, sign here.”

Hong’s companion, const. Dawood (Sheikh) Khurshid describes Hong as a witty collaborator, a lover of Motown music, and a man of confidence to associates.

“I can’t believe you’re gone. Please rest, my dear friend. We’ll take it from here,” Khurshid said, crying out his tribute.

Mayor John Tory, one of several politicians who spoke during Hong’s funeral, said he had met the officer a few times by chance, and that his warmth and his presence quickly relayed who he was.

“A good man,” said Tory, “and a good cop.”

On Wednesday morning the procession is led by Mounted Unit officers.

Prior to service, Hong’s motor unit and others remotely visited Halifax and Flint, Mich.

One rider was missing.

Hong’s motorcycle rode to service on a small flatbed, his calf-high boots facing back to acknowledge his team for the last time, part of a tradition of honoring fallen soldiers and officers.

Officers marched half-mast under the flags of Canada and Toronto police to pay tribute to their slain colleague. Scores of people gathered outside the front door of the North Building, waiting for a motorcycle as the coffin carrying Hong’s body arrived.

In his tribute to Hong – whom he called the “man of steel” – Toronto Police Chief James Ramer acknowledged other victims of last week’s shooting, which also killed business owner Shakeel Ashraf and international student Satwinder Singh. Ramer thanked emergency workers who arrived at the scene in Mississauga and made a “vain effort” to rescue Hong, noting that Hong’s fellow motorists “refused to leave their side.”

“Andrew, you will never be forgotten. May your valor guide our hearts forever and may the angels guide you to your comfort,” Raimer said.

The Warbirds fly past the funeral of Toronto Police Constable Andrew Hong.

After the ceremony, Ramer hands her husband’s fodder hat to Jenny, who sits during the ceremony on Hong’s flag-wrapped coffin.

Jenny said in her eulogy that Thursday would be the couple’s 21st wedding anniversary. This year will be the first time that Hong will not be there to celebrate together leaving their flowers or messages.

“So Andrew, if you’re listening,” she told the people gathered, “please know that you will be the greatest love of my life forever and ever.”

Earlier, addressing her children, Jenny said: “Like your father, we will learn to ride as one.”

Hong grabbed her husband’s hat as she exited the funeral pyre behind his coffin and, in the middle of the afternoon, her children stood behind her.

Constable Andrew Hong's motorcycle has been pulled over with his shoes on the wrong way.
Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter who covers crime and policing for Star. Reach him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @wendygillis
cast.  Hong's Horse makes its way towards the convention center, led by police motorcyclists.
Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based crime reporter for Star. Follow him on Twitter: @jpags


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