Friend speaks after a gunsmith, 70, was shot and killed by police near the area’s beach town

PORT RYERSE – Witnesses, neighbors and friends have identified a man from Norfolk County who was killed in a collusion with Toronto police this week as gunsmith Rodger Kotanko, 70.

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PORT RYERSE – Witnesses, neighbors and friends have identified a man from Norfolk County who was killed in a collusion with Toronto police this week as gunsmith Rodger Kotanko, 70.

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Mark Donnell of Simcoe, a lifelong friend of Kotanko, arrived at the scene with a friend around noon Wednesday minutes after a shooting took place at Kotanko’s home on Port Ryerse Rd., South of the town of Simcoe and near Port Dover.

Neither the police nor Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, have released the man’s name, but an online search shows that Kotanko was attached to the home.

Donnell said the couple had plans to go hunting in a bush next to Kotanko’s property. As he pulled up, Donnell said he noticed a strong police presence in the area.

Thursday morning, Donnell said he saw paramedics drive Kotanko out of the home on a stretcher. Donnell said paramedics performed CPR while doing so. A friend of the Kotanko family, Donnell said he has it from “a reliable source” that Kotanko was shot once in the neck and three times in the chest.

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Donnell said Kotanko’s wife Jessie was in the front yard, confused, crying and shouting her husband’s name.

“I wanted to see her,” Donnell said. “But they would not let me. I saw them bring him out on a stretcher. Then they threw me out.”

In a statement Wednesday, Toronto police said officers were in the process of carrying out a firearms search order at the time of the shooting. SIU says the raid took place just after noon Wednesday.

SIU is urged to investigate every time a civilian in Ontario is injured or killed during an interaction with police. SIU says three investigators and two forensic experts have been assigned to the case.

In a follow-up email Thursday, SIU spokeswoman Kristy Denette said the interaction involved members of the Toronto police. She added that Norfolk OPP, the local police force, was not involved.

Fraser Pringle lives a few doors down from the Kotanko home. He and Kotanko have known each other for years, Pringle said.

“They shot a gunsmith,” Pringle said Thursday. “You have to put it there. He has a weapon because he’s a gunsmith. He also had a customer with him. Rodger always did. He was a gunsmith. He kept to himself.”

Donnell said Kotanko had expertise in the care and maintenance of both long arms and handguns. He said Kotanko occasionally worked for members of the Norfolk OPP.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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