Edmonton police and Strathcona County RCMP are investigating after an overnight crime spree in which someone was shot, two armed carjackings reportedly took place, one vehicle was set on fire and another one abandoned hundreds of kilometres away in Saskatchewan.
The scene stretches from Edmonton through Sherwood Park and east into Saskatchewan.
At around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, RCMP were given a heads up that Edmonton police were following a black Ford Fusion they said was involved in an armed carjacking in the city. Police said it happened at around 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, in the area of 118 Avenue and 104 Street.
About 10 minutes later, a woman was robbed in the area of 106 Avenue and 92 Street. The vehicle involved in this incident matched the description of the one involved in the carjacking, police said.
Mounties then responded to reports of a shooting at the Holiday Inn Express, just off Broadmoor Boulevard and Portage Lane. RCMP said a man was shot in the shoulder and neck area.
Police said he was conscious and was taken to Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
About five minutes later, police said the Ford Fusion was involved in another armed carjacking with a shotgun, one block north of the hotel at the Flying J gas station near Highway 16.
RCMP said a Black Chrysler 300 with a Saskatchewan licence plate was stolen, and both cars fled the scene.
It was Vern Goulet’s car that was stolen. He lives in Regina but was driving to Edmonton to catch a flight to Fort McMurray for work.
“I stopped at the Flying J just for a quick second to use the bathroom. I came out, jumped in my car, changed music in my car and all of a sudden the guy opens the door. There’s a shotgun there and he’s like, ‘I’m jacking your car.’
“Go ahead. It’s yours,” Goulet told him. “He jumped in and then I ran into the gas station and called 911 right away.”
Goulet said the whole thing happened within a few minutes and police arrived very quickly.
“I’m still in disbelief, still a bit in shock that it happened,” he said. “So many scenarios go through your head when something like that happens. I’m just glad I didn’t get hurt. I think about the other victims and I just feel bad for them.
“I have two kids at home, eight and nine, and I just thought, what if they were in the backseat of the car?” Goulet said. “Don’t shoot, that’s the first thing going in my head. Is this the last time I’ve seen my kids?”
Goulet said RCMP told him his car was later recovered but he’s waiting to hear in what condition it’s in. The whole experience has given him perspective.
“It’s just a car. It can be replaced but lives can’t be, right?”
“I just hope they catch him soon, put this to an end.”
A black Ford Fusion was later found on fire about 30 kilometres east of Sherwood Park on Range Road 195, just off Highway 16 near the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village.
While it matches the description of the suspect vehicle, police said at this time they could not confirm the burned vehicle is the same one used in the carjacking.
RCMP said the Chrysler 300 was seen speeding through the Vegreville area and was later found in Saskatchewan.
At around 10 a.m, RCMP in Maidstone — located between Lloydminster and North Battleford — said they were at a scene related to the Alberta crime spree and residents would see an increased police presence.
One man was arrested Thursday morning in the Maidstone area. He remains in police custody but charges have not been laid. Police continue to search for a second suspect, described as a man who is about 5’9″ tall. He is believed to be on foot.
Officers were searching farms and acreages in the rural areas near Paynton and Maidstone, Sask. as part of the investigation.
“The individuals involved in this investigation may be armed and are considered dangerous,” RCMP said, asking people to report any suspicious activity, vehicles or people to police immediately.
Residents were also asked to stay away from areas with a heavy police presence for safety reasons.
— With files from Emily Mertz and Caley Ramsay