Leaked radio transmissions reveal Edmonton police were determined to get a speeding U-Haul driven by a terror suspect off busy downtown streets Saturday night.
The 10-minute recording, posted at liveleak.com, begins just as an officer identifies the suspect at the wheel of a U-Haul at a checkstop on Wayne Gretzky Drive.
The officer reports that the driver is fleeing police, and tactical units are called in.
Officers can be heard expressing concern as the suspect nears the busy downtown. They describe the vehicle speeding along Jasper Avenue and blowing through red lights.
“Civilians are hit, 107 and Jasper,” one member says. “Guys, we need to take that vehicle right now!”
“Use all means necessary to stop that vehicle and end this [criminal] flight,” another man says.
“Pedestrians hit! Pedestrians hit! By The Pint.”
WARNING: This audio contains strong language
Police constantly provide information, to call for help for the injured, and to ensure someone has stopped to help them.
Within moments, the U-Haul is reported to be flipped on its side. Then the suspect is in custody. No shots are fired. Other police cars quickly arrive to block off the area and direct ambulances.
Police Chief Rod Knecht praised the officers for their decisiveness in such an intense situation.
“After listening to it in its entirety, I’d say I’m very proud of the members, extremely proud of the members,” he told Global News.
“It was textbook. From my perspective as a senior executive, that’s exactly how I would’ve wanted them to handle it.”
The police chief said he was particularly impressed with how the duty officer reacted quickly when the U-Haul approached Jasper Avenue.
“Their No. 1 priority is public safety, public safety, public safety. And that came across in spades. As soon as they saw someone injured, they made a split-second decision, the exact right decision.”
Watch below: Newly leaked police recordings are shedding more light on Saturday night’s pursuit of a U-Haul, which is now at the heart of a criminal investigation. Fletcher Kent has the details.
Knecht said the officers did exactly what they were trained to do, especially given concerns about what could be in the back of the truck.
“It appears that he goes from an opportunity to just escape police or outrun the police to actually targeting an area of the city that’s high-volume traffic, lots of people,” Knecht said. “They put that together very, very quickly and it was amazing.
“Kudos to the duty officer; he made that shift immediately and said, ‘We’ve got to take that out.'”
Knecht said police would review the incident and the police response.
Earlier the night of the U-Haul rampage, Const. Mike Chernyk was hit by a Chevy Malibu and then repeatedly stabbed by the driver. Chernyk, an 11-year veteran of the force, was released from hospital Monday.
Police put out an alert about the registered owner of the Malibu and set up checkstops. Police said the owner was known to them from a 2015 investigation when he was accused of espousing extremist views.
It was at one of the checkstops that an officer stopped the U-Haul, recognized the suspect’s name on the driver’s documents and attempted to arrest him.
READ MORE: Who are the victims of Edmonton attacks?
Four pedestrians were injured by the U-Haul. As of Monday, two of them were still in hospital, one in serious condition. The other two pedestrians were released from hospital.
During a news conference on Monday, police defended how they handled the police chase.
“If we hadn’t pursued this vehicle — in light of the use of the car earlier to run over a police officer and the history of large vehicle attacks in Germany, Spain and other European countries — the outcome would have been much worse,” EPS Insp. Carols Cordoso said.
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