- Mar 13, 2017
'Acts of terrorism' in Edmonton: Officer stabbed, pedestrians run down
Edmonton police released disturbing video footage Sunday morning showing the first in a chain of events they are now investigating as an “act of terrorism.”
The video shows a white Chevrolet Malibu driving directly through a road barricade at an intersection near Commonwealth Stadium, hitting a police officer who goes flying through the air before he is then attacked.
The stabbing of a police officer and a subsequent high-speed chase where several pedestrians were run down is being investigated as an act of terrorism, Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said at a 3 a.m. news conference.
Knecht, standing side by side with representatives of the RCMP, said based on evidence at the scene, and the actions of the suspect “it was determined that these incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism under section 83.2 of the Criminal Code.”
Knecht also confirmed that an ISIS flag was discovered in the vehicle the suspect was driving when he rammed the police car, then stabbed the police officer — and that the flag is part of the investigation.
The attack began on the officer who was manning a routine Edmonton Eskimos game-day blockade by himself southwest of Commonwealth Stadium at 107A Avenue and 92 Street. The officer was outside his vehicle, which had its lights flashing to improve visibility.
At around 8:15 p.m., a man driving a white Chevrolet Malibu crashed into the barricades set up to keep pedestrians separated from vehicles.
The vehicle struck the officer “sending him flying through the air 15 feet before colliding with the officer’s cruiser” at high speed.
The suspect, believed to be 30 years old, then got out of his vehicle and attacked the officer with a knife. The officer was stabbed multiple times before the suspect fled on foot northbound on 92 Street.
The officer was transported to hospital and the chief said he is not in critical condition.
Immediately after the incident, Knecht said information about the registered owner of the vehicle was broadcast to patrol officers across the city.
A manhunt was underway when before midnight a suspect was pulled over at a police checkstop on Wayne Gretzky Drive and 112 Avenue driving a U-Haul truck. When the officer asked to see a driver’s licence, he recognized the name as being similar to that of the registered owner of the Malibu used in the earlier attack. The suspect fled the scene with at least a dozen police vehicles in pursuit.
Pedestrians targeted in downtown chase
A high-speed chase ensued with the suspect racing west down Jasper Avenue into the downtown, where Knecht said the suspect “deliberately tried to hit pedestrians in crosswalks and alleys” at two areas along the route. Four pedestrians were struck and were subsequently transported to hospital. There is no information on their condition.
Shortly after the pedestrians were run down, the suspect’s vehicle overturned on 100 Avenue just south of Jasper Avenue “due to police interaction,” said Knecht.
The driver was arrested and is now in police custody.
Witnesses who saw the chase and pedestrians being struck described the scene as chaotic.
‘There were people flying’
Just before midnight Kim Anderson was waiting for her bus when she saw the U-Haul hit pedestrians near Jasper Avenue and 107 Street.
“There were people flying and everything,” she said. “I’m shocked — I just see people flying.”
At the Matrix Hotel on 100 Avenue and 106 Street, right across from where the truck overturned, Natalie Pon was at a wedding.
She said guests heard loud bangs like gunshots. Staff kept them away from the windows as the situation unfolded.
When she snapped a photo of the U-Haul there was a “huge hole” in the windshield of the truck. But she didn’t see a suspect.
“We caught wind this was happening outside, so we saw it after the fact.”
Pat Hannigan said he was across the street when he saw the truck flip over.
“They (police) were pulling him out of the windshield, then handcuffed him,” he said.
Brian McNeill was sitting on the back of a pickup truck when he saw the U-Haul going about 80 km/h, chased by 14 to 20 police vehicles.
“Holy shit, this is too fast,” he thought as he watched vehicles driving west on Jasper Avenue.
He says the truck hit two pedestrians and disappeared. Then he said he heard what he believed was a gunshot.
McNeill questioned why a high-speed chase was allowed to happen in the downtown. “That should have never happened,” he said.
Chief justifies high-speed chase
Knecht addressed those concerns at the news conference, saying the seriousness of the crime dictated why the chase continued.
The chief also said police had no forewarning of the attack and they believe the suspect acted alone. However Knecht also cautioned that “the investigation is in the early stages, and we are urging Edmontonians to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.”
“Contact police if you see anything suspicious or hear anything suspicious,” he said.
Several hours after the officer was attacked, the white sedan with a damaged front end sat between two police vehicles near a darkened grocery store adjacent to a Crown Liquor store. The trunk on the sedan was open and the scene was bordered by yellow police tape.
A police hat and what appeared to be a yellow police vest lay on the ground near the car.
Police diverting traffic
A heavy police presence had blanketed Edmonton’s inner city after the initial incident as the manhunt ramped up.
Police were stopping vehicles and peering inside with flashlights throughout the area.
Officers were also seen stopping traffic on the High Level Bridge as well as maintaining a presence on the