Edmonton terror attacks: What we know so far
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story stated that the suspect is a refugee claimant, based on RCMP and Edmonton police stating as such in a press conference. The office of the minister of public safety have since issued a statement clarifying that the suspect is a refugee, not a refugee claimant.
On Saturday evening, an Edmonton police officer was struck by a car and stabbed, and four pedestrians struck as the suspect fled in a U-Haul truck, in what authorities are calling a “lone wolf” terrorist attack.
The initial attack took place outside the Commonwealth Stadium, with the ensuing police chase proceeding to downtown Edmonton where the suspect, a 30-year-old Somali national, injured four pedestrians with his vehicle before eventually being apprehended.
Here’s what we know so far about the attacks:
Edmonton Police Const. Mike Chernyk attacked
At 8:15 p.m., a white Chevrolet Malibu rammed into a traffic barricade outside the stadium at high speed, striking Const. Mike Chernyk and sending him flying five metres into the air.
The suspect then exited the vehicle and stabbed Const. Chernyk several times with a large knife. Footage appeared to show the police officer wrestling with the driver on the ground, before the two get to their feet and the suspect flees across the street.
WATCH: Edmonton Police release video of terror attack
Chernyk was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and later released. He is expected to make a full recovery.
“It is a testament to his experience and training that he survived [the attack],” Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht later said.
An Islamic State flag was later found in the front seat of the car.
Police chase, pedestrians hit
Immediately following that incident, police checkpoints were set up in different parts of the city.
Just before midnight, a police officer pulled over a rented U-Haul truck at a checkpoint less than two kilometres away from the stadium, and asked to see the driver’s license. The police officer noticed the driver’s name was similar to that of the registered owner of the white Malibu that struck Const. Chernyk.
READ MORE: Timeline of vehicle attacks in 2017
When the officer returned to his vehicle to call for back-up, the suspect took off towards downtown Edmonton, and police began their pursuit.
Around 11:30 p.m., Global News reporter Laurel Gregory was wrapping up a live report for Global Edmonton’s News at 11, when a police officer asked her to take cover behind a tree or a car.
WATCH: Edmonton police tell Global reporter to move during chaotic Saturday night
Throughout the chase, the man intentionally tried to hit pedestrians, and nearly t-boned one vehicle, police later said. Witnesses saw the vehicle careening into an alley near The Pint pub, west of the downtown core, striking two people.
The manager of The Pint said the van “peeled” into an alley where people were smoking, with around 10 police cars in pursuit.
A bar customer was hit, and tended to by a bar employee who is also a registered nurse, before paramedics arrived.
An ambulance was also seen tending to someone near 107 Street and Jasper Avenue, just a couple of blocks down from The Pint.
Chief Knecht later said the victims’ injuries ranged from broken limbs to brain bleeds, with one victim suffering a fractured skull.
As the police chase continued, the suspect showed no signs of slowing down or turning himself in, Knecht said in a Sunday press conference.
He said police carried out a “tactical maneuver” that caused the suspect’s vehicle to roll onto its side just outside the Matrix Hotel, just a few blocks away from the pub. Officers broke the windshield of the truck and used a stun grenade to distract the suspect.
A Taser was then deployed to incapacitate the suspect, who was then hauled out through the broken windshield.
A witness who was attending a wedding at the hotel tweeted photos of the scene.
The suspect was seen by a doctor and has since undergone questioning, Chief Knecht said.
Who is the suspect?
On Sunday, sources told Global News that 30-year-old Abdulahi Sharif of Edmonton is the suspect.
Police haven’t confirmed the identity of the suspect, but revealed that he is a Somali national who is in the refugee claimant system.
In 2015, Edmonton Police were alerted that the suspect was “espousing extremist ideology,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said in a press conference on Sunday. Degrand said authorities investigated the claim, even interviewing the suspect at one point.
However, there was insufficient evidence at that time to charge the suspect with any terrorism charges, Degrand added. He declined to reveal when the suspect came to Canada.
Following his capture late Saturday night, the suspect is expected to be charged with terrorism charges, as well as five charges of attempted murder.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale indicated that Canada’s terrorism threat level would not change as a result of the attacks, and would be left at “medium.”
Meanwhile, Chief Knecht assured Edmontonians that their city is not believed to be in danger in the aftermath of the attack.
Asst. Comm. Degrand discouraged any kind of backlash against Muslims, reiterating that “this is an individual that is responsible for these crimes,” and insisting that “none of our citizens, Muslim or other, support this kind of activity.”
Edmonton police Sgt. Michael Elliott said the public reaction to the attack will be critical.
“We want our communities to come together. When events such as this occur and could potentially create a divide,” said Elliott.
“This has happened in Germany, France and England and now it has made it to our doorstep. Only together can we change the tide.”
— With files from Global News reporter Phil Heidenreich and the Canadian Press
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