CALGARY — An interview at the headquarters of Alberta’s police investigative unit turned bloody Tuesday when a witness pulled out a knife and began stabbing an officer almost to death.
Police say the attack happened in an interview room at the offices of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.
The officer involved in the struggle, a plainclothes RCMP investigator working for the team, was stabbed three times and rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries. His condition was upgraded to good after surgery. He still faces another operation.
Clifton Purvis, who heads the investigative unit known as ASIRT for short, identified the injured officer as Sgt. Andrew Johnson. Johnson’s wife and two sons were with him at the hospital, Purvis said.
A second officer, a member of the Calgary force who intervened in the melee, was cut on the hand and will be fine.
An unnamed suspect was arrested at the scene, but needed to be taken to hospital himself for a “bump on the head.”
ASIRT reviews incidents or complaints involving serious injury or death that may have resulted from the actions of a police officer.
Calgary police Duty Insp. Vic Trickett said a man, who is in his 30s and was previously known to police, showed up at the office and asked to speak with an officer.
“This individual was escorted to an interview room,” Trickett said.
Usually there would be audio and video running in the room, but that wasn’t the case because it wasn’t a formal interview, Purvis said.
He also said ASIRT team members have body armour and weapons, but can choose whether to wear them. The injured officer was not wearing any protective gear.
“Unfortunately the RCMP officer was stabbed multiple times,” Trickett said.
“As the incident occurred, other ASIRT members who were … in the office at the time … heard the commotion and … rushed to intervene with the disturbance. The ASIRT officers took the offender, the suspect, into custody and immediately … started to help their fellow worker.”
EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux said paramedics feared for the officer’s life as he was being transported to hospital. Photos of him being taken from the building showed a man apparently unconscious with blood over his left eye.
“Since his arrival in hospital he has been upgraded to serious but stable. But to be clear, his injuries are very, very serious,” Brideaux said.
The suspect also appeared to be unconscious as he was taken from the building on a stretcher. There was blood on the pillow behind his head.
“I understand he has a bump on the head,” RCMP Supt. Randy McGinnis said.
The ASIRT offices are secure in that anyone arriving has to be buzzed in, Purvis said. But there are no metal detectors and there is no policy to search every person who enters.
Security is being reviewed, he added.
ASIRT has jurisdiction over all sworn police officers in the province and has offices in Edmonton and Calgary.
Purvis, a lawyer and Crown prosecutor, is ASIRT’s civilian director. Besides several other civilian analysts and investigators, there are 10 police officers on the team.
The unit’s Calgary headquarters is housed in an office building next to the law courts along the city’s C-Train line. There are various other government offices in the building. The city’s drug court is also in the building.