Edmonton police investigating officer attack, truck chase as terrorism

October 01, 2017 09:40 PM

Edmonton - A suspect stabbed an Edmonton police constable then later drove a truck that tried to ram into pedestrians while it was being chased by police cruisers in downtown Edmonton Saturday night, officials say, in what is now being investigated as a terrorism incident.

Four pedestrians and the constable were injured when the U-Haul truck struck them as it sped down Jasper Avenue, Edmonton police chief Rod Knetch told reporters.

The officer is not in critical condition. Knetch could not provide more details about the condition of the pedestrians.

The suspect is in custody and appears to have acted alone, the police chief said.

Knetch said an Islamic State flag that was inside the suspect's vehicle had been seized and was part of the investigation, which now involves the local RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, a counter-terrorism unit.

Edmonton police give an update on suspected terror attack(THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The incident started around 8:15 p.m. near Commonwealth Stadium, where a police officer was handling traffic-control duties outside the Edmonton Eskimos-Blue Bombers game. The game was military appreciation night.

Edmonton police released grainy footage of a car ramming a crowd control barricade with a uniformed officer standing beside it. The footage shows the officer being tossed about five metres into the air as the car slams into the front of a parked police cruiser.

The video shows two people walking by with their dogs rushing towards the officer on the ground but they run off when the driver gets out of the car, runs over and appears to starts stabbing the officer.

The police officer appears to wrestle with the driver on the ground and, at one point, it appears the officer is on top of the driver. Footage shows them both getting to their feet and the driver runs across the street while the officer slowly follows behind him into traffic.

Police found identification papers for a man in his 30s in the Chevrolet Malibu.

About two hours later, a police officer stopped a U-Haul truck and saw that the driver's name appeared to match that of the suspect in the earlier incident.

The U-Haul driver sped away, with several police cruisers in pursuit.

While being chased, the suspect tried to hit pedestrians as he passed by crosswalks and alleyways, Knetch said.

The chase ended with the truck swerving into Jasper Avenue, where it eventually overturned. Knetch said the high-speed pursuit in the downtown area was justified by the serious nature of the incident.

The name of the suspect was not released. Knecht said he was known to police, but there was no warning for the attack.

Austin Elgie, manager of The Pint bar just west of the downtown core, said the truck hit a person in the alley outside his establishment.


"We were just standing out front here and basically a U-Haul was heading north down 109th Street and peeled into this smoking alley here where people were having a smoke," he said.

"There was like 10 cop cars following him.

"It was crazy. It just came around the corner, ripping. I thought at first he was pulling over for the cops coming by, but he was clearly the one they were chasing."

Elgie said after the vehicle passed by the steps of the bar, the view was obscured by the corner of the building. But he said it hit a man who was a bar patron.

"I have a registered nurse on my bar team and I grabbed her and had her look after the guy until the ambulance came."

"He was breathing and we got him in the ambulance and he was still breathing."

After that, Elgie said he still had a bar to run that was full of people. Plus he had to talk to police and have staff review security footage."

The alley was blocked by police afterwards, but people continued to come and go from The Pint.

The U-Haul ended up on its side a few blocks away outside the Matrix hotel.

Natalie Pon tweeted that she was at a wedding at the hotel when the crash happened.

"They're keeping us away from windrows/the lobby," she said.

"They let us exit thru north employee entrance. Tons of police presence and closed roads immediately around Matrix."

Pon posted pictures of the U-Haul on it's side with a large hole in the windshield.

Witnesses told local media they saw a suspect being pulled from the vehicle through the broken windshield and then placed in handcuffs.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tweeted her well-wishes to the injured officer.

"Our thoughts are with @edmontonpolice member injured on duty tonight & hoping for a speedy recovery," she wrote. "Grateful for our first responders."

In a statement issued Sunday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also condemned the violence in Edmonton as a "terrorist attack".

"The Government of Canada and Canadians stand with the people of Edmonton after the terrorist attack on Saturday that sent an Edmonton Police Service officer to hospital and injured a number of innocent people who were out to cheer on their football team and to enjoy an evening in their city. I am deeply concerned and outraged by this tragedy," he said.

""We cannot – and will not – let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada's strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear. Edmonton is a strong and resilient city, and I am confident that its citizens will support one another to overcome this tragic event."

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