Evansburg RCMP officer recovering after shootout with murder suspect west of Edmonton
The 59-year-old Alberta RCMP officer who was airlifted to hospital after being injured in a shootout west of Edmonton has been identified as Evansburg RCMP officer Sgt. Brian Topham, sources told Global News.
WATCH:Video provided by Jesse Robinson shows the scene drivers passed near Entwistle, Alta. Thursday night as RCMP confronted a murder suspect wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. One Mountie was injured after shots were exchanged.
Topham was injured when a bullet grazed his head and a fleeing murder suspect was killed in an exchange of gunfire near Evansburg, Alta., a small community about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton.
Topham, a senior member of the RCMP, was flown by STARS Air Ambulance to Edmonton, where he remained in stable condition Friday morning.
“Sgt. Topham remains in the hospital, but is recovering well and is in good spirits,” RCMP media relations Cpl. Laurel Scott said in an update Friday afternoon.
“He and his family are extremely appreciative of the support and concern that has been flooding in from colleagues and the public. The entire RCMP Division is standing behind him and wishing him a speedy recovery.”
Watch below: An RCMP officer is in hospital after shots were exchanged west of Edmonton on Thursday. The shooting left a man wanted for first-degree murder dead. Sarah Kraus reports.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley responded to the incident, saying on Twitter she was very concerned to hear of the shootout on Highway 16.
“My thoughts are with the communities close by, and with the officer who was injured. I’m relieved to hear that he is recovering in stable condition.
“I want to thank the officers from the many different detachments who came to help. We stand with police and all first responders across the province as they protect our communities and put the well-being of Albertans above all else.”
Notley also commented on the Calgary homicide.
“Finally, my heart goes out to the family and friends of Ms. El-Dib, who died tragically in a related incident in Calgary last weekend. May they find comfort during this extremely difficult time.”
What happened Thursday night
The police incident west of Edmonton started at around 5:15 p.m. Thursday, when an officer in Evansburg spotted the man believed to be wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. A chase began after the suspect failed to stop his vehicle.
RCMP said pursuit continued on Highway 16 between Evansburg and Entwistle, switching directions between eastbound and westbound multiple times. The two communities are about two kilometres apart, divided by the Pembina River.
WATCH: Raw video of Alberta RCMP chasing Calgary murder suspect Adam Bettahar on Highway 16 between Evansburg and Edson, recorded at around 5:50 p.m. Thursday.
RCMP officers from several nearby communities joined the effort to stop the driver. Police tried to use a spike belt, but the suspect avoided it.
The pursuit then headed about 40 kilometres west to Nojack, where the suspect turned around. While headed back east, another spike belt was deployed and police said it was successful.
The damaged vehicle continued until it came to a stop on Highway 16 at Highway 22, back near Entwistle.
In a confrontation that followed, Bettahar was killed and Topham was injured.
“A confrontation occurred between the RCMP members and the male suspect, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle,” police said. “The male was injured fatally and the RCMP member suffered minor injuries.”
Highway 16 was closed overnight and traffic was re-routed while police investigated. It was re-opened Friday afternoon.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) — the province’s police watchdog — has taken over the investigation. ASIRT is called in to investigate any incident involving Alberta law enforcement agencies that result in serious injury or death.
ASIRT said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.
WATCH: A 21-year-old man wanted for the first-degree murder of a Calgary woman was killed and a Mountie was injured after shots were exchanged near Evansburg, Alta. on Thursday night, according to sources. Sarah Kraus reports.
— With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News
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