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Thursday May 5th, 2011

Posted at 10:15am

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The scene of Atkinson's murder (Google Street View)

On this day, May 5th, back in 2006, a frightening call came over police radios across the city.

“Officer down.”

While at the Mac’s convenience store at Pillette and Seminole streets, off-duty police Constable John Atkinson noticed a drug deal taking place.  Like any good officer, Atkinson took a moment to investigate.  Atkinson approached two men nearby, identified himself, one brandished a gun and a shot was fired.

Atkinson was fatally wounded, but still managed to pull out his gun and fire three shots.  He collapsed on Seminole Street’s south sidewalk and died from a bullet wound to his face.

Seminole and Pillette (Bing Bird's Eye View)

Within minutes, hundreds of officers swarmed to the scene and began a manhunt for the two suspects.  Police arrested 18 year-old Nikkolas Brennan and 18 year-old Coty Defausses.

In November 2007, Brennan was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the first degree murder of Atkinson.  The jury’s decision to convict Brennan on first-degree murder indicated that Brennan knew Atkinson was a police officer when he pulled the trigger.

Days after Atkinson’s murder, a community came together.  May 11th 2006 saw a funeral at the University’s St. Denis Centre, attended by over 5000 police officers, friends and family from all over North America.

Hundreds of businesses paid tribute to the fallen officer by placing condolences on outdoor signs.  A procession after the funeral lasted hours as it made its way from West Windsor to the final resting place of Atkinson.

The City of Windsor renamed an east-side community centre as the “John Atkinson Memorial Community Centre” which was updated and renovated in 2010.

Today, Windsor Police are asking the public to mark one minute of silence at 11am.

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