TOFIELD — RCMP were questioning two men following a gun battle in which one Mountie was grazed by a bullet and another was run over by a stolen truck on a farm in a rural area east of Edmonton.
One of the men was wounded in the shootout Monday night before he and another man and a woman were arrested by a police tactical team. The woman was later released from custody and is no longer considered a suspect.
“I am just thankful that no lives were lost as a result of this — law enforcement or civilian,” RCMP Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis said Tuesday.
“I know there are families on both sides that were wondering what was going to happen.”
Police say the Mountie who was run over suffered broken bones and internal injuries and was being treated in hospital.
McGinnis described a chaotic scene in which officers exchanged gunfire with a man they described as their prime suspect while trying to move the badly wounded officer to safety.
“We applied some makeshift splints on his arms and legs, and then we carried him across a field to a waiting police truck so he could be taken to an ambulance that was staged down the road about a quarter of a mile.”
McGinnis said it all started when RCMP got a call in the afternoon complaining a man had threatened to go to a farmhouse with a handgun and kill someone.
RCMP from three detachments were called in and spread out over the county, looking for the suspect and checking with his known associates.
Then came a call from an area farmer, saying he had come home and found a man on his property.
After chasing him away, the farmer checked and realized three of his shotguns were missing.
McGinnis said five officers had gone to a particular home on a farm between the communities of Vegreville and Tofield and were talking with the couple who lived there when all hell broke loose.
“As they were about to leave, the main suspect approached our members and an altercation occurred outside,” said McGinnis.
“This individual then jumped into the stolen truck and purposely drove over one of our members and then became stuck in the ditch or a snowbank.
“There was a gunfight between the truck and our members who were at various corners of this farmhouse. (The suspect) probably exited the truck when we were trying to get our injured members to the ambulance … This is an excellent example of members doing what has to get done to save the life of a comrade.”
McGinnis said the couple who resided at the house were then taken into custody.
The superintendent said it has been frustrating in rural Alberta dealing with people involved in the drug trade who have undertaken a rash of thefts, stealing what they can so they can pay for their drugs.
Monday’s incident couldn’t help but remind him too of the March 2005 shooting in Mayerthorpe, where four RCMP constables were fatally shot after being ambushed by James Roszko at his farm where he ran a marijuana grow-op.
A somewhat emotional McGinnis said he hopes this sends a message to the public.
“This is THEIR RCMP members that are out there doing this; I really want the Canadian public to know that,” he stressed. “This is THEIR police that are putting their lives on the line to make sure they’re safe in their beds.”
In February 2012, two Mounties were also injured when they were shot while trying to deliver a warrant to a farmhouse near Killam, 160 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.
Constables Sheldon Shah and Sid Gaudette underwent surgery and survived.
Sawyer Robison, 28, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said the news about the officers makes her sad.
“Our thoughts of course are with them and with their family. I understand there are some critical injuries involved,” she said in Calgary.
“I’m pleased that they’ve been able to make progress with respect to the perpetrators in the alleged incidents. It’s not appropriate for me to comment any further with respect to the investigation or the prosecution but sufficient to say today that it was very disappointing, very worrying to hear the story last night.
“Our thoughts and our prayers are with the family and every single day we thank everyone who’s a front line service provider.”