On May 15, 2015, 15 years to the day Sergeant Mark Hume had graduated from RCMP Depot, he started his work day like any other – he put on his uniform and his St. Michael pendant, the patron saint of police officers. While he was putting it on, the chain broke, and the pendant fell off. Since the day his sister, also a police officer, had given it to him five years previous, he had worn it on every shift. Mark decided to leave for work a little earlier than usual so he could stop and get the pendant fixed. Turns out it was a good decision as he would need protecting that day.
It was May long weekend and as head of Westman Traffic Services, Mark was on the highways patrolling and doing traffic enforcement when he heard a call come over the radio about a spousal assault in Kemnay, Manitoba. He wasn't far away, and neither was one of his constables, Luanne Gibb. Both headed to the call. When they arrived, the victim and her friend had already left the residence and were able to come speak to police. Based on what Mark and Luanne were told, they decided to execute an arrest on Clayton Ewert, who remained in the home.
While Mark and Luanne approached the house, Clayton came out on the verandah preparing to BBQ. He had a plate full of food and some tongs. Mark said, "Hey, we need to talk to you." Clayton threw the food in the air and while running back into the house yelled, "Get off my property or I'm going to shoot you." Mark and Luanne ran for cover and were joined by another officer.
Mark was positioned opposite the other officer when he saw the dirt on the ground between them scatter. His left foot went numb. He quickly realized he'd been shot. Before he could move, another shot rang out, he saw another puff of dirt, and he felt pain in his right arm. At this point, Mark had no idea if the shooter was still in the house or if he was going to keep shooting. Mark ran for cover. With an injured left leg and a bleeding right arm, Mark ran through the backyards of the houses across the street from Clayton's residence. He stopped to warn the residents to get in their basements and take cover. He had no idea if Clayton was pursuing him. He kept moving from cover to cover until he made it back to the main road where the police cars were parked and his fellow officers were stationed.
As the senior officer on scene, Mark took control of the situation and set up a command post. Approximately 55 minutes from the time Mark and Luanne heard the call on the radio, Clayton had peacefully surrendered. "We talked him out of the house, and I arrested him for attempted murder of myself," recalls Mark.
Mark received immediate medical attention and was taken to local hospital. Three pellets remain in Mark's body today. He has two pellets in his left leg and one in his right arm, but the wounds that bother him aren't the physical ones – it was the effect on his family. "My five-year-old nephew didn't know the severity of what happened to me, and I didn't want him to, but he knew I'd been hurt and that everyone was very worried about me. He came to visit me when I was out of the hospital and put superhero band-aids on my wounds. We never did tell him I was shot," remembers Mark.
Clayton plead guilty and has been found guilty of numerous charges, including the attempted murder of Mark. For Mark, that is small comfort. For him, it is not the personal attack – he stresses that he doesn't have any hate or ill wishes for the man who shot him. What does concern Mark is what the attack meant.
"On May 15, 2015, the uniform I wore and my presence at that domestic assault complaint, got me shot – twice. I hadn't even said anything to Mr. Ewert yet, beyond that I needed to speak with him. I had never met him before. I didn't mistreat him. He didn't dislike me on a personal level. He didn't even know me. He tried to kill me simply because of the uniform that I wear and the values that I represent and THAT is what troubles me the most."
For Mark and Luanne, and other officers who have experienced similar incidents, going home to loved ones at the end of a shift is no longer taken for granted. Police officers have to promise themselves every day that they will be going home, and ultimately, keeping that promise is not always under their control. Mark made it home and still proudly wears the uniform he has been wearing for half his life, but he starts each and every shift with a profound awareness of what he is putting on the line.