Charges laid against suspect in Edmonton attack include attempted murder

Charges laid against suspect in Edmonton attack include attempted murder

A suspect has been charged in an attack which saw an Edmonton officer stabbed and four people injured when they were hit by a rental truck fleeing police.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif faces five counts of attempted murder, four counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and one weapons-related charge.

Although police have said that terrorism charges are expected, none has been laid so far.

Sharif, who is 30, is a Somali refugee once investigated for allegedly espousing extremism.

He is scheduled for a bail hearing in provincial court on Tuesday morning.

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht has said the events of Saturday night appear to have been the work of a single person.

It started when a police officer handling crowd control at a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium, just northeast of downtown, was hit by a speeding white Chevy Malibu that rammed through a barrier and sent him flying five metres through the air.

The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Const. Mike Chernyk, a 10-year veteran, as he was lying on the ground. Chernyk fought back and the suspect fled on foot.

“He was in a struggle for his life, holding onto his gun with one hand and blocking the knife with his other,” Knecht said Sunday. “It’s a testament to his experience and training that he survived.”

Chernyk is out of hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. He has stab wounds on his face and head and abrasions on his arms.

Hours after the initial attack, a man driving a U-Haul cube van that police pulled over at a checkpoint produced identification linking him to the registered owner of the white Malibu.

Becoming suspicious when police held him up, the driver sped off toward Jasper Avenue, downtown Edmonton’s main east-west thoroughfare, with multiple police cars in pursuit.

Knecht said the suspect almost T-boned a vehicle and purposely drove into pedestrians, injuring four of them. Two suffered head injuries including a skull fracture. Two had been released from hospital as of Sunday afternoon.

Knecht said officers used a “tactical manoeuvre” to force the truck to crash onto its side just south of Jasper Avenue and the suspect was arrested.

“No shots were fired. In fact, no shots were fired anywhere in this entire incident,” said Knecht.

RCMP assistant commissioner Marlin Degrand said Sunday the suspect was checked thoroughly in 2015 after police received a report that he may have been radicalized. Investigators determined at that time that he did not pose a threat.

Degrand said files on the suspect were kept and shared with other intelligence and police agencies after 2015, but that was as much as the law would allow.

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