RCMP release photos of suspect in fatal Edmonton hit and run involving U-Haul

Click to play video: 'Spike belt protocol questioned after death of Alberta mom during police pursuit'
Spike belt protocol questioned after death of Alberta mom during police pursuit
New images were released of the suspect who is believed to have hit and killed a mother of three from Fort Saskatchewan. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Feb 27, 2024

Beaumont RCMP have released higher-quality photos of the suspect involved in a hit-and-run collision while fleeing police on Saturday that took the life of woman and seriously injured a man.

RCMP officers tried to stop the man and U-Haul cube van at around 9 p.m. on Feb. 24 in Beaumont. The RCMP had deemed the vehicle suspicious. RCMP said the initial call was for a suspect allegedly stealing packages from porches.

But the U-Haul — with a male driver and female passenger inside — rammed the RCMP vehicle and sped away, RCMP said. As the U-Haul truck was driving north into Edmonton, a tire-deflation device (spike belt) was deployed by RCMP, which also disabled three civilian vehicles.

One driver, a 45-year-old woman — who has since been identified as mother-of-three Kassandra Gartner — got out of her vehicle and was struck and killed by the U-Haul, which sped away, heading north on 50th Street, into Edmonton.

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The suspect vehicle then collided with another civilian vehicle, leaving a man in serious non-life-threatening condition, RCMP said.

Click to play video: 'Woman killed, man hurt, child briefly abducted during criminal chase in south Edmonton: Police'
Woman killed, man hurt, child briefly abducted during criminal chase in south Edmonton: Police

Edmonton police say the suspect vehicle then stopped outside a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station off 22nd Avenue and 50th Street Southwest, before someone in the U-Haul stole a Honda Civic car that was parked outside the gas station. Police said the car had a child inside.

Moments later, the child was found unharmed at 66th Street and 25th Avenue. The suspect then fled the scene in the Honda Civic, police said.

The stolen car was recovered by police Monday morning near Wainwright, Alta., police said.

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RCMP said Tuesday they continue to search for the suspect that was involved in the fatal hit-and-run collision.

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He is described as having a thin build, about 5 foot 11 inches tall, and was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes.

RCMP are asking anyone who recognizes this man to call 911 or their local police department. Beaumont RCMP can be reached at 780-929-7400.

Male suspect in Feb. 25 fatal hit and run that spanned Beaumont and Edmonton. Courtesy: Beaumont RCMP

Between July and December of 2023, Alberta RCMP authorized the use of spike belts on 205 occasions.

“Of those, 95 of them, the members either didn’t deploy them or they weren’t successful,” said RCMP public information officer Troy Savinkoff. “So, we’re looking at, over about a five-month period, over 100 successful deployments of a tire-deflation device in the province. So, it’s something that’s used quite frequently.”

He said there are policies and procedures around the use of spike belts.

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“The member must be trained in the usage of the device. Additionally, prior to the deployment of a tire-deflation device, we have a system in place called RTOC, which is our real-time operations centre, that has a supervisor that does authorize the use… The pursuit is monitored by that supervisor,” Savinkoff explained.

“A spike belt has a rope attached to it so once it’s deployed, it can be removed,” he said. “Situations are extremely dynamic and without people being there and observing exactly what took place, it’s difficult for anyone to make an accurate assumption.

“This incident is currently being investigated by ASIRT as well as internally by the RCMP.

“The world is an unpredictable place and policing is of course extremely unpredictable,” Savinkoff said. “We do the best we can and we have protocols in place to prevent tragedies. This is something that will be looked at and we’ll see if changes are needed.”

RCMP said the female in the U-Haul has been located but cannot say more in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

Click to play video: 'Fatal 50th Street crash witness describes chaotic scene in south Edmonton'
Fatal 50th Street crash witness describes chaotic scene in south Edmonton

Jonah Brown was a passenger in an Uber travelling from Beaumont to Edmonton Saturday night.

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“All of a sudden, we hear screeching behind us, like a big, loud screech,” Brown said.

“I didn’t see the crash but my friend did. He looks back and he sees the U-Haul truck skid out of a control, go across the lane and he watched it crash into the 7-Eleven.”

Brown said he felt their Uber hit something. It was the spike belt and the Uber driver pulled over, he said.

“We got out and we inspected the tires, and it was at that point where the SWAT team had come and they were surrounding the U-Haul truck,” he said.

“By that point we realized what was going on there. They were trying to take down that U-Haul truck and we got caught in the middle of it.

“It was crazy,” Brown said. “I thought I was about to see a shootout.

“At the time, I didn’t know the seriousness of the situation I was in.”


Click to play video: 'Fort Saskatchewan mom Kassandra Gartner identified as U-Haul hit-and-run victim'
Fort Saskatchewan mom Kassandra Gartner identified as U-Haul hit-and-run victim

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