January 25, 2016 5:14 pm
Updated: January 26, 2016 5:29 pm

Peace River prisoner who escaped custody arrested in northern BC

Peace River RCMP are searching for Harley John Lay, 29, who was taken from custody Monday, Jan. 25, 2016.

Courtesy, Peace River RCMP

EDMONTON — A Peace River prisoner who escaped custody during an escorted transfer Monday was arrested Tuesday morning in northern British Columbia.

RCMP said Harley John Lay was arrested at about 11:30 a.m. near Fort Nelson. Two others were also taken into custody after a vehicle was stopped by police.

At around 10 a.m. Monday, Lay was being escorted by two correctional officers from the Peace River Correctional Facility to Peace River Hospital for medical treatment.

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While en route, an armed, masked man confronted the officers and took the 29-year-old prisoner from their custody. Police said the officers did not resist the masked man’s demand.

The men got into a beige Dodge minivan driven by a third man and drove away.

“At this time we have no indication that he (Lay) was not involved,” Staff Sgt. Brent Meyer with the Peace River RCMP said Monday.

“We are moving forward with the thought that he was aware of this and/or provided some information to these people to assist in this happening.”

Lay has a lengthy criminal history. In 2009, he was sentenced to 30 months behind bars for trafficking a controlled substance.

In 2012, he was given a 36-month sentence for possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Most recently, Lay was behind bars facing 16 charges, including unlawful confinement, stemming back to July 2015. He was caught in violation of a firearms prohibition.

Erez Raz, vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said correctional officers go through training and the officers in this situation handled it correctly.

“When a supposed masked man with a weapon is telling you to let the individual go, you’re not going to resist. They did everything they could with what they have and fortunately no one was injured,” Raz said.

“From what we’ve gathered so far from the individuals, as well as the others that we’ve talked to, they did handle it properly, yes.”

Raz said his main priority now is the officers’ well-being.

“These are very dangerous jobs that we do each and every day, protecting the average Albertan,” he said. “AUPE’s main goal currently is to make sure that our officers in question receive all the counselling and services and resources that could possibly be out there for them.”

Peace River is located about 485 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Fort Nelson is about 630 km northwest of Peace River.

RCMP did not reveal the identities of the other two people who were arrested with Lay.

Police said more information about charges would be released once it’s available.

*Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. It was updated at 2:25 p.m. MT Tuesday to include information about Lay’s arrest.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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