Two men killed, three Mounties injured in wave of violence in St. Paul
ABOVE: The main street of a small Alberta town erupted in bloody chaos Friday, leaving two people dead and three RCMP officers wounded in a terrifying series of events police could only describe as “horrific”
EDMONTON – One of the men who died in a series of violent events in St. Paul Friday evening has been identified.
A spokesperson with the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton says Rev. Gilbert Dasna died Friday night. Lorraine Turchansky, director of communications and public relations, says Dasna was a priest from a Nigerian-based order of priests.
Dasna was reportedly found in distress near a St. Paul residence while a series of events was unfolding in the small community northeast of Edmonton.
Dasna was born in Cameroun in 1982. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2009 and has served the St. Paul Cathedral since May 2011.
The Diocese of St. Paul says the entire Catholic community is mourning Dasna’s death.
“The death of Father Gilbert is deeply felt. He is mourned as a good man and a good priest who radiated daily both joy and peace,” read a statement from the Diocese of St. Paul.
While the exact details of what led to the events is unclear, three Alberta Mounties were injured in a confrontation that began over the supper hour.
Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis says the incident started when officers heard gunshots coming from outside the St. Paul RCMP detachment around supper time.
They went outside and saw a black pickup truck leaving the parking lot, so started to pursue the vehicle. Officers say the truck was allegedly speeding down 50 Ave., and purposely rammed a police vehicle.
The black pickup ended up colliding with an RCMP truck, pinning a female officer inside the vehicle.
“There’s bits and pieces of vehicle all over the street, half a block away,” McGinnis said. “So that tells me that the impact and the speed that he was travelling when he struck our vehicle was excessive.”
The driver of the black pickup truck then allegedly opened fire at the officers.
“The driver of the black dodge pickup truck then engaged. Took a firearm and began to fire at the second and third members that were on the scene. Our members returned fire,” McGinnis explained.
WATCH: Local resident Alfred Gratton describes to Global News what he witnessed during the confrontation between RCMP officers and a gunman in St. Paul
McGinnis says the female officer and another officer, who received a gunshot wound to his hand, were sent to Edmonton by air ambulance. A third injured officer, a man, remained in St. Paul.
Both of the officers who were sent to Edmonton are in stable condition. McGinnis says the officer who was shot in the hand has been released from hospital.
The man driving the black truck was killed in the confrontation, McGinnis said.
While this was happening, St. Paul RCMP received a call about a man in distress at a residence a few blocks away from the detachment. The man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
McGinnis says it’s still not known if the two incidents are related.
McGinnis describes the situation in the small town Friday evening as “mayhem.”
“This is a horrific crime scene. I was shaken by it,” McGinnis said Friday night. “This is the scene of a movie. I’ve seen movie scenes that weren’t as horrific as this.”
The incident took place in the middle of downtown. St. Paul Mayor Glenn Andersen confirms that shots were fired, but says both the RCMP officers and the gunman were in vehicles at the time.
“It was a very busy time for a small community, supper hour and Friday on a weekend, and people were very concerned,” Andersen said. “As a small community, we’ve got to be with the families of everybody involved in this. We don’t know the nature of the incident, we don’t know what caused it, and so we want the RCMP to be able to come out with the facts and get people to get the facts before they just start innuendo and social media.”
WATCH: The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating after three RCMP officers were injured in a confrontation with a gunman in St. Paul.
Holly Ballantine, who recently moved to St. Paul from Ontario, had just arrived home when the incident happened.
“I was just getting in the door and I heard faint gun shots,” she said. “And then my boyfriend got home from work and he said there was a shooting. And I was like, ‘what are you talking about?’ Because I didn’t really know what the gun shots were.”
Ballantine says it’s pretty scary to have something like this happen so close to home.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking because I moved here from a small town where nothing really like this happened. I’ve never seen anything like this happen.”
Alberta’s Justice Minister Jonathan Denis released a statement Friday night, extending his thoughts to the officers and their families.
“Today, I had the honour of attending events with RCMP officers where I spoke about the sacrifices made by law enforcement personnel across our province. Each and every day, when they leave for work, they don’t know dangers they may face, including if they will come home at the end of their shift.
The terrible events this evening in St. Paul are a reminder of the very real dangers faced by law enforcement, as they put themselves at risk in the line of duty to protect and serve Albertans.
I am also grateful to the many personnel who responded on scene, for their assistance.
On behalf of Premier Hancock and all Albertans, I extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone and their families affected by this serious incident.”
Town Councillor Ken Kwiatkowski says it’s unbelievable that something like this would happen in St. Paul.
“It’s very surprising,” he said. “This is something you’d probably only see in the movies.”
Kwiatkowski said a lot of people in the town of 5,400 would probably know the officers in the detachment.
“I think most people know everyone,” he said. “We’re a very tight-knit community.”
RCMP say 50 Ave., between 47 St. and 48 St. will remain closed to traffic and pedestrians until Saturday evening.
Autopsies are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, 2014.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has now taken over the investigation.
A tip line has been set up for any information about any of these events. Police are urging the public to call to 780-645-8845 with any information.
St. Paul is located about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
With files from The Canadian Press.
© Shaw Media, 2014