St. Albert RCMP say two people are in custody and one person remains on the loose after a number of carjackings that forced schools and daycares in the community north of Edmonton to be placed in hold and secure Wednesday morning.
Police said there were two separate carjackings and two attempted carjackings that began at around 8:45 a.m.
“At this point we believe they are related,” Const. M.J. Burroughs said Wednesday afternoon.
The suspects used a firearm or replica firearm to forcibly steal the cars, RCMP said.
“There was a firearm or a replica firearm that was used in all the commissions of the offences. It was not fired and nobody has been injured,” Burroughs said, adding the firearm has not been recovered.
“We treat it as a firearm for sure.”
The situation was fluid and police were tracking the suspects in many areas of St. Albert, so the RCMP said it placed some schools and daycares in a hold and secure as a precautionary measure.
During a hold and secure, exterior doors are locked so people can’t move in and out of the building, however operations inside carry on as normal.
“It started at Sturgeon Road and St. Albert Trail this morning and then proceeded up to Marion Crescent and there were some attempts in between there in the downtown core but no specific locations,” Burroughs said.
“It was so fluid and unravelling, I don’t have the exact locations, but the two vehicles that were jacked — it started on Sturgeon Road and St. Albert Tail on the corner and then proceeded up to Marion Crescent.”
Burroughs said a blue Toyota Corolla was taken from the area of St. Albert Trail and Sturgeon Road and recovered on Madison Avenue.
A 2007 red Jeep Compass with Alberta licence plate CHV 5953, which was still unaccounted for early Wednesday afternoon, was taken from the Marion Crescent area. Burroughs said if residents see this vehicle, they should not approach it and immediately call police. you know where it is, do not approach.
Burroughs did not have a description of the third person they believe was involved in the carjackings and who may or may not still be with the Jeep.
“We don’t believe that the individual is in St. Albert. We feel that they have gone into the Edmonton area,” she said.
“At this time we’re hoping to locate the Jeep Compass to give us more information about the individual that we have not been able to locate.”
In a notice posted to its website Wednesday morning, Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools said all of the schools within St. Albert were following the hold and secure protocol.
“Students and staff are safe, and classes are continuing as normal. No one is allowed in or out of any of these buildings until further notice,” the notice stated. “An email will be sent once the all-clear has been declared.”
The school division said the hold and secure did not apply to its schools in Morinville and Legal. An update on the school division’s website said the hold and secure had been lifted for all schools.
St. Albert Public Schools said in an update on its Facebook page that all its schools had also been asked by the RCMP to go into a hold and secure.
“Students will be kept safely inside their schools until the situation is resolved. More info will be provided when we receive it. Please do not go to your child’s school. This hold and secure applies to our division office and facilities building as well,” the post read.
An update from St. Albert Public Schools also stated the hold and secure had come to an end and that classes and activities would continue as normal for the rest of the day.
Burroughs said the schools and daycares were not given details about what was going on or why the hold and secure was initiated.
“Details were not provided to them, nor would we ever if we asked a school or a building to go into hold and secure, only because we’re involved in an investigation and we’re trying to get details and we can’t share details until we know what’s going on,” she explained.
“We do hold and secures to protect people so that they remain inside. Nothing is happening inside the building that we’ve initiated a hold and secure on. It’s just to protect the people and that people can’t come and go or come into the building because doors are locked.”
St. Albert RCMP said officers found and arrested two men believed to be involved in the carjackings. No one was injured during the morning’s events, police said. Charges have not yet been laid.
Burroughs said the RCMP are working in coordination with the Edmonton Police Service on the investigation.