VEGREVILLE, Alta. - A manhunt is under way for an armed suspect who shot and grazed one RCMP officer and ran down another with a stolen vehicle on a rural property near Vegreville, Alta.
The officer who was hit in the arm was not seriously hurt, but his colleague suffered far more extensive injuries and is being assessed by doctors in an Edmonton hospital.
"This is not a case where the truck brushed him and pushed him into the snowbank," Chief Supt. Randy McInnis explained in a phone interview from Vegreville early today. "He was intentionally driven over by a one-ton truck. I know that he's got some broken bones, an arm and a leg, I believe; he's probably suffering from some internal injuries, though that's just speculation on my part."
McInnis described a chaotic scene on Monday evening in which officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect while trying to move the badly wounded member 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."
McInnis 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.
Members 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 long-barrelled shotguns were missing.
McInnis said five officers had gone to a particular home 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 alercation occurred outside," said McInnis. "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."
McInnis said the couple who resided at the house were taken into custody but the primary suspect is still at large: "Our emergency response team is in the process of trying to track him down."
The superintendent said it has been frustrating in rural Alberta to deal with groups of 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 McInnis 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.
-- by Gwen Dambrofsky in Edmonton