When Lynn learned there had been a shooting at the courthouse where her husband Mike worked, she repeatedly called and texted the 30-year veteran police officer but got no response.
When told a photo had been posted online of a wounded officer being taken away on a stretcher, she quickly scanned it and spotted the telltale green wristband Mike always wore – it was him. Moments later, she was called to her office lobby.
“I saw the police chief and my immediate thought was, ‘He’s dead’”, Lynn says. “But the chief enveloped me in a bear hug and said, ‘He’s going to be OK. I’m here to take you to Sunnybrook.’”
That morning, Const. Mike Klarenbeek, 54, hadn’t recognized the man who slipped through the courthouse lawyer’s entrance. When asked to identify himself, the man turned and fired a handgun, hitting Mike in the abdomen and knocking him down.
Determined to prevent any more injuries in the crowded courthouse, Mike tracked his assailant, now heading to the elevators and shooting towards other officers. Mike was able to fatally shoot him.
“The paramedics who raced me to Sunnybrook were tactically trained”, Mike says. They knew he needed the specialized personnel and equipment at Sunnybrook’s Tory Regional Trauma Centre, the country’s first and largest trauma centre.
Mike had lost two litres of blood and was in surgery for five hours. “Dr. Homer Tien had to repair my colon and bowel,” he says. “Two parts of my intestines got blown apart and he had to cut and splice and repair those as well.”
Following surgery, Dr. Tien reassured the family that Mike would regain normal functioning. “My daughter leaped out of her chair, hugged him and said, ‘Thank you very much,’” Lynn says. “We were all ecstatic.”
Dr. Tien, the trauma centre’s medical director is also a Canadian Forces lieutenant-colonel who has served as a surgeon in military zones. “Dr. Tien has probably put together people in much worse shape than me,” Mike laughs.
Today Mike’s back to work, teaching a firearms course to police cadets.
He and the police chief returned to Sunnybrook eight months after the incident. “It is thanks to this team of amazing people that I am here today,” the officer told the team who cared for him. “I am most grateful.”
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