UPDATE: Condition of one of the Alberta Mounties injured in standoff improves
EDMONTON – An Alberta RCMP officer, who was seriously injured during a standoff between Vegreville and Tofield earlier this week, is now in stable condition.
He had to undergo surgery after being run over by a vehicle during the standoff Monday night at a rural Alberta property.
A wounded male suspect was taken into custody after the incident, during which another Mountie was shot in the arm .
The names of both of the officers who were injured will not be made public until the charges are sworn. RCMP say that will happen when the suspect is considered medically fit to appear in court.
He sustained gunshot wounds and is being treated at an Edmonton hospital. RCMP Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis had said once his condition permits, he’ll be arrested and charges can be laid.
He said those charges could include attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, among others.
The situation began around 2 p.m. Monday, when RCMP received a call about a man allegedly threatening to “kill an individual who lives in the Mundare area.”
RCMP from three detachments – Vegreville, Tofield, and Two Hills – set out to find the suspect, who was thought to be armed with a handgun.
While searching for him, RCMP received a call from a farmer about a break-in at his home. The suspect, who got away, matched the description of the man RCMP were looking for.
“We know he stole three long-barrel firearms from this farmer’s residence,” said McGinnis.
An investigation led five officers to the home of the suspect’s acquaintance. That’s where things took a turn.
“At the time we didn’t know the suspect was there,” McGinnis explained.
A husband and wife were also at the rural property. The woman – who was inside the home – was taken into custody, but the search continued for her husband and the initial suspect.
When officers found the original suspect, “we attempted to make an arrest, there was a physical altercation… he managed to escape,” explained McGinnis. The man ran to his vehicle and tried to drive away. “He attempted to flee the yard and got stuck in a snow bank.”
“We entered into a gunfight with this individual and our members were injured,” said McGinnis.
He explained one member’s arm was “grazed” by a bullet. He was treated and released. The other officer was run over.
“I’m not talking about being brushed and pushed into the ditch. But he was driven directly over by this suspect in a one-ton Dually Dodge truck.”
McGinnis said that member was being treated in an Edmonton hospital for what were believed to be some internal injuries, as well as several broken bones.
The other man was later found in the shed on the property.
Neither the officers’ names nor the suspects’ names have been released.
On Tuesday, both the premier and the minister of justice made statements about the incident.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to all officers involved in the incident that occurred last night and into the early hours of this morning,” said Minister Jonathan Denis in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with the two injured officers and their families, and I wish them both full recoveries from their injuries.”
“I commend the incredible work of our law enforcement officers and the tremendous sacrifices they make every day to keep our communities safe.”
Earlier on Monday evening, RCMP described the situation at the rural property as “very dangerous,” and were warning the public to stay clear of the area.
RCMP had also told a Global News crew near Tofield that they had blocked off Range Road 192 from Township Road 522 to 530.
McGinnis stressed that the situation was incredibly “dynamic.” Once on scene, police set up an inner and outer perimeter while they assessed who might be involved.
“We did not have control of that inner perimeter for nine hours.”
McGinnis said once RCMP knew members were involved in a firefight, they quickly called for backup from numerous other nearby detachments.
The man and woman at the rural residence have been questioned and released. McGinnis said no charges have been laid at this time.
“I do know that the [initial] suspect has been on our radar for numerous break-and-enters and thefts in the rural area for the last month or so,” he said.
“We also know that he is a substance abuser.”
“A lot of our property crimes are being committed by individuals who are trying to get money for their next fix,” added McGinnis.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is also investigating the file since it includes an officer-involved shooting.
“ASIRT has been tasked with investigating the conduct of RCMP,” said Clifton Purvis, ASIRT Executive Director, “that’s what we always do.”
He said there were eight ASIRT investigators on scene.
“We are receiving excellent cooperation from the RCMP.”
You can watch the full news conference from Tuesday afternoon below:
With files from The Canadian Press
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