Man escapes under gunfire

Red Deer RCMP officers opened fire after a man they were trying to arrest tried to run them down in a pickup early Thursday morning in the city’s north end.

Steven Lagace

Red Deer RCMP officers opened fire after a man they were trying to arrest tried to run them down in a pickup early Thursday morning in the city’s north end.

The suspect, Steven Lagace, 24, is still on the loose and police warn he is considered dangerous and should not be approached.

The two plainclothes officers were not injured in the 12:30 a.m. incident near the Express 24 in Glendale. They were attempting to arrest Lagace on a stolen property charge when he fled. He climbed into a nearby pickup and took off.

“It is further alleged that Lagace attempted to hit the RCMP officers with the vehicle as he was fleeing,” says a release from RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes.

“As a result, police discharged their sidearms in an effort to stop the action.”

Oakes said in an interview he did not know how many shots were fired at the pickup, which is believed to have been stolen.

The pickup was damaged, but Lagace managed to speed away.

The abandoned pickup was soon found a short distance from the scene.

An RCMP dog team was called in but was unable to locate Lagace.

Oakes was unable to say if the pickup had been dumped because of damage caused by police. The 2005 Ford F350 pickup was hit by at least one bullet.

How many shots were fired and other details will emerge during the ongoing criminal investigation as well as an internal review, which is standard procedure whenever police fire their guns. The review is done to determine if the appropriate level of force was used.

The 188-cm (six foot-two inch), 110-kg (245-pound) Lagace is well known to police.

Oakes said if someone spots him, they should stay away.

“Sometimes people get the mindset ‘I’m going to arrest him and hold him until police arrive.’ Not recommended.”

Anyone seeing Lagace should not hesitate to call 911, he said.

Last June, Lagace pleaded guilty to 23 charges in Red Deer provincial court in connection with a series of run-ins with police over several months.

Lagace was on probation in April 2007 when he was spotted behind the wheel of a stolen pickup. When RCMP approached he took off, triggering a chase through Lancaster subdivision and then out into a farm field south of Red Deer near Hwy 42. He dumped the truck and fled on foot but was tracked down by a police dog unit and arrested.

Two months later, he led police on another high-speed chase on Hwy 2A near Carstairs that hit speeds of 160 km/h. That 20-minute chase ended in another arrest.

The following month, he was arrested again in Sylvan Lake after being stopped by police in a stolen BMW.

His guilty pleas covered drug possession, numerous theft and stolen property charges, failing to stop for police, dangerous driving and other offences.

In court, his defence lawyer said Lagace’s problems stemmed from a crystal meth habit that he had managed to beat in prison.

Lagace was given credit for time served and had three months left to serve at that time. He was also put on probation for 18 months.

Anyone with information can call RCMP at 403-343-5575 or at Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Online tips can go to www.tipsubmit.com

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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