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Driver of stolen Winnipeg fire truck tried to hit pedestrians, say police

WATCH: Man arrested after fire truck stolen in Winnipeg

A 36-year-old man faces numerous charges after the wild chase of a stolen fire truck through Winnipeg Friday.

United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg president Alex Forrest tells Global News the fire truck was stolen from a medical call on Henderson Highway, police say it was taken around 12:30 p.m.

“They were in the building for about 12 to 15 minutes and when they came out the truck was gone,” said Forrest.

Winnipeg man steals fire truck, allegedly attempts to hit pedestrians
Winnipeg man steals fire truck, allegedly attempts to hit pedestrians

Forrest said the truck hit a vehicle near Henderson Highway and Bronx Avenue before heading downtown with police and firefighters chasing behind.

Police at the scene under the Donald Street Bridge.
Police at the scene under the Donald Street Bridge. Randall Paull/Global News

Police say a hydro pole was knocked down in the crash, causing power to be cut off in the area.

Man arrested after fire truck stolen in Winnipeg
Man arrested after fire truck stolen in Winnipeg

Police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver said the truck then headed to the downtown area, where he said the driver turned onto the grass at Central Park.

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“Early indications are that there were attempts to hit civilians in the park, but none were hit,” he said.

“The threat was very real here.”

Carver made it clear that the situation is not being considered a terrorist attack, however.

“There’s no indication whatsoever that this was a terrorist attack or that he had done this intentionally to inflict injury on anyone.”

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Carver said officers used two separate spike belts to try to stop the truck behind Portage Place Shopping Centre near Webb Place, but it carried on through the downtown with deflated tires.

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Multiple units followed with speeds varying between 20-50 km/h, before the truck broke down on Assiniboine Avenue under the Donald Street bridge.

Carver said officers needed to use their Tasers to subdue the driver, who was then taken into custody.

“I just can’t under estimate the threat that this would have been,” said Carver, adding no one was seriously injured in the incident.

‘Where did the fire truck go?’

Kyle Kalynchuk was the driver of the vehicle hit by the fire truck.

He tells Global News he was in the middle lane on Henderson Highway when he saw the truck coming from behind.

“I looked in my rear-view mirror and I saw a fire truck with lights on so I moved into the right lane and as I moved over and I look in the mirror again and he was like two feet from my bumper and smoked me, drove me into the hydro post,” he said.

Police on scene where a truck was hit by the fire truck Friday.
Police on scene where a truck was hit by the fire truck Friday. Global News

“I just heard it drive away and when I got out I was wondering where the fire truck was.

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“All the witnesses were wondering the same thing, ‘Where did the fire truck go? Why didn’t he stop?’”

Kalynchuk said he’s OK, but sore.

‘I was just driving normally down the street, then I got hit by a fire truck’: Winnipeg driver
‘I was just driving normally down the street, then I got hit by a fire truck’: Winnipeg driver

“I’ll be feeling it tomorrow for sure,” he said. “I’m just in shock that’s all.”

Darell Claeys was walking on Broadway, near the Fort Garry Hotel, when he saw the truck go by.

The fire truck was damaged in the chase.
The fire truck was damaged in the chase. Randall Paull/Global News

“The horn was going off quite loudly, and as it was coming up past me it had a tire blown out and part of the truck had been hit by something,” he said.

“The front passenger (side) tire was actually blown up and it was right on the rim – you could see sparks flying everywhere with it.”

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36-year-old Bai Farama Koroma has been charged with theft/dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, operation of a conveyance while impaired by drug, possession of a weapon, fleeing police, failing to stop at the scene of two accidents and driving without a valid license. He remains in police custody.

–With files from Joe Scarpelli and Anya Nazeravich

Police say emergency vehicles have been stolen before in Winnipeg
Police say emergency vehicles have been stolen before in Winnipeg