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50 years ago, this B.C. RCMP officer was shot, killed on final shift before marriage

An overpass in Surrey is now named for Const. Roger Pierlet, on the job less than 2 years
Surrey RCMP Constable Roger Pierlet, 23, was killed on duty in Cloverdale in 1974. (RCMP photo)

Fifty years ago Friday (March 29), Surrey RCMP Const. Roger Pierlet was shot and killed while patrolling Surrey, on 176 Street in Cloverdale.

It’s a sombre anniversary for the detachment, as Pierlet was working his last shift before taking time off to be married.

“He noticed a vehicle being driven erratically and stopped the vehicle,” says a post on Surrey RCMP’s Facebook page.

“The passenger was armed with a rifle and fatally shot Pierlet. The driver and passenger were later arrested and sentenced to life.”

Pierlet served for less than two years, from Aug. 9, 1972 to March 29, 1974.

“Today and always, we honour and remember (Pierlet) for his service and sacrifice.”

The two killers were originally sentenced to death, but these were commuted to life sentences after capital punishment was abolished in Canada in 1976.

John Harvey Miller, 28, and Vincent John Roger Cockriell, 18, were drunk and hunting for a cop to shoot as they drove through Cloverdale in their 1964 Dodge. Cockriell wanted revenge, blaming the law for the death of his brother, who was killed during a high-speed police chase.

The pair threw a beer bottle through the police station window. After luring Pierlet out, and he pulled them over, the young Mountie told Miller to get out of the vehicle.

As Pierlet stood in front of the open car door, Cockriell, from his passenger’s side, squeezed off a shot from a 30-30 Winchester rifle. The bullet hit Pierlet in the chest, killing him almost instantly.

In Pierlet’s memory, the 176 Street overpass just south of Highway 10 was named after him and two bronze plaques were mounted on concrete pillars on its north end. Originally hailing from Montreal, Pierlet had been posted to what was then the Cloverdale detachment. He is buried in the RCMP’s graveyard at Depot Division, in Regina.

Pierlet and his brother talked about the possibility of the Surrey Mountie being killed in action the year before he was gunned down in Cloverdale.

Apart for a decade, Luke Pierlet was reunited with Roger in Vancouver in 1973. The two talked a lot about Roger’s job as an RCMP officer and how dangerous it was. Luke even asked him if he was worried about getting killed.

“He said, ‘Well, that comes with the job,’” Luke said in 2011. “We certainly never imagined it was going to happen.”

Nearly a year later, on March 29, 1974, Pierlet worked his final shift.

“He loved being an RCMP officer and he gave his life for it,” Luke recalled.

with files from Tom Zytaruk, Kevin Diakiw

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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