Suspect in fatal Edmonton U-Haul hit-and-run arrested in Wainwright

Click to play video: 'Suspect in Fatal Edmonton U-Haul hit-and-run arrested in Wainwright'
Suspect in Fatal Edmonton U-Haul hit-and-run arrested in Wainwright
A man accused of hitting and killing a mother with a U-Haul truck in south Edmonton has been arrested in Wainwright. Breanna Karstens-Smith is in the community with details. – Feb 28, 2024

A suspect being sought after a deadly hit-and-run collision in south Edmonton last weekend was arrested three days later in central Alberta.

RCMP officials confirm the arrest happened in the Wainwright area. A witness, who Global News is not naming for safety reasons, said police moved in on an apartment in the town Tuesday night.

“A whole bunch of cop cars going at a high rate of speed, headed towards that one building,” she said.

Video from a nearby security camera obtained by Global News showed multiple RCMP vehicles pulling up to the building just before 6 p.m.

RCMP outside an apartment building in Wainwright, Alta. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Supplied

“They went in and then it was probably 10 to 15 minutes, and then they come out with the guy in handcuffs and they put them in the cop car. Three cop cars went away and the rest stayed there,” the witness said.

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She said the man in handcuffs did look like the surveillance video photos RCMP released on Tuesday of the suspect.

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

The deadly situation began Saturday night south of Edmonton in the city of Beaumont, where Mounties were searching for a U-Haul cube van suspected of being involved in stealing packages from porches.

It was spotted with a man behind the wheel and a woman in the passenger seat around 9 p.m.

Police tried to stop the truck but it rammed the RCMP vehicle and sped away, police said. RCMP from Beaumont, Leduc and Strathcona County joined the pursuit and the Edmonton Police Service also responded.

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As the U-Haul truck was driving north on Highway 814/50th Street into Edmonton, a tire-deflation device was deployed by RCMP, but before the intended target arrived three civilian vehicles ran over the spike belt and were disabled.

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One driver, a 45-year-old woman — who has since been identified as mother-of-three Kassandra Gartner — got out of her vehicle to inspect the damage.

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

That’s when the Fort Saskatchewan woman, who was the executive director of that city’s food bank, was struck and killed by the U-Haul — which continued north on 50th Street into south Edmonton.

The U-Haul then hit another vehicle, leaving a man in serious, non-life-threatening condition, RCMP said.

Edmonton police said the suspect vehicle ended up outside a 7-Eleven convenience store and Esso gas station off 22nd Avenue and 50th Street SW.

Edmonton police allege the suspect in a high-speed, fatal pursuit left a U-Haul outside a gas station off of 22nd Avenue and 50th Street on Feb. 25, 2024. Eric Beck, Global News

Witnesses told Global News the truck lost control and crashed at the gas station on the southern edge of Edmonton, in the Walker neighbourhood.

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That is where, according to RCMP, one of the U-Haul occupants stole a Honda Civic that was parked outside the gas station that had a child inside.

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

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

The stolen car was later found on Monday in Wainwright, which is about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

The witness had been following the news of the shocking situation in which an innocent woman was killed, another man injured and a child briefly kidnapped when the vehicle they were in was stolen.

The witness figured the suspect was probably hiding out in the building she saw police go in, which she said has previously been the centre of trouble.

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“I tracked (the news) pretty good, and then when they said the car was found in Wainwright, I said, ‘He’s probably here.'”

It’s a problem property that is usually littered with junk like old bikes and vehicles, she said.

“If you talk to people in town, it’s a known drug house,” she said, adding, to her knowledge, about a dozen people live at the home. “They come and go, they’re transient. It should be condemned and it shouldn’t be in our community.”

RCMP said the woman who was a passenger in the U-Haul was located but could not say more in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

The suspect police said they were looking for was 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.

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

RCMP said it would not release the suspect’s name until charges are laid in the coming days.

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The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team police watchdog agency is investigating the actions of the police officers in connection with the series of events on Saturday.

The RCMP said it will also be conducting its own internal review.

A candlelight vigil for Gartner is being planned for Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at Fort Saskatchewan city hall. Donations can be made in her name to the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank building fund.

— With files from Emily Mertz and Phil Heidenreich, Global News

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