ST. PAUL — Three RCMP officers were wounded Friday evening in a confrontation with a gunman in a northern Alberta town.
The gunman was reportedly killed.
St. Paul Mayor Glenn Andersen said the incident took place around the supper hour Friday on the street in the middle of downtown St. Paul.
Images from the scene that have been posted to Twitter appear to show that a large black truck had been boxed in by RCMP vehicles on the street, with an ATB bank on one side and a Servus Credit Union on the other.
One RCMP truck had nearly its entire front end ripped off and a yellow tarp was covering something lying in the street.
Chief Supt. Randy McInnis said two of the officers were sent to Edmonton by air ambulance while the third remained in St. Paul.
“You can understand we are in mayhem here trying to get things under control,” said McInnis, adding that more information would be released as the investigation continued.
Andersen confirmed that shots were fired but said both the RCMP officers and the gunman were in vehicles at the time.
“It’s very surprising,” said town councillor Ken Kwiatkowski. “This is something you’d probably only see in the movies. For it to happen in St. Paul, it’s just unbelievable.”
Kwiatkowski said a lot of people in the town of 5,400 would probably know the officers in the detachment, which he described as fairly large.
“I think most people know everyone,” he said. “We’re a very tight-knit community.”
St. Paul is actually just 251 kilometres from Mayerthorpe, where four Mounties were gunned down in March 2005 by self-described police-hater James Roszko. They had been guarding a hut on Roszko’s farm as part of a marijuana grow-op and automobile chop-shop investigation.
Roszko then killed himself. Dennis Cheeseman and his brother-in-law, Shawn Hennessey, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for giving James Roszko a rifle and a ride the night before Roszko ambushed the RCMP officers on March 3, 2005, near the town of Mayerthorpe.
Late Friday, Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis issued a statement saying the events in St. Paul “are a reminder of the very real dangers faced by law enforcement, as they put themselves at risk in the line of duty to protect and serve Albertans.”
He said the incident is being investigated by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which is standard procedure in any officer-related shooting.