A shooting in St. Paul, Alta. has left one gunman dead and three RCMP officers wounded. Supplied/Mike Vanderhoek
Three Mounties are recovering from their injuries after a shooting erupted on the main street of St. Paul, in northern Alberta. The gunman was killed in the confrontation.
The chaotic scene unfolded in the town of 5,400 at about 6 p.m. MT Friday when officers heard gunshots outside the local RCMP detachment.
Police saw a black Dodge pickup truck leaving the parking lot, and officers followed the truck as it sped towards the downtown core.
At that point, the driver of the truck seemed to intentionally ram a police cruiser, trapping an officer inside the vehicle. Police say that's when the man opened fire.
Chief Supt. Randy McInnes says the officers returned fire, killing the gunman.
"I've seen movie scenes not as horrific as this. There's bits of pieces of vehicle all over the street a half a block away," he said.
"I was shaken by it to the point where I couldn't properly text a message to my commanding officer to let them know what was going on."
McInnes says the female officer inside the police vehicle suffered serious leg injuries. A male officer was shot in the hand and another was hit in the face with flying glass. Both men were treated and released.
Meanwhile, officers found another man dead while responding to a medical distress call. Police received the call just a few minutes after the Dodge was spotted in the RCMP parking lot. It's not clear if the incidents are related, but police say the two scenes were within a few blocks of each other.
“At this point in time, I cannot tell you if there is any connection between the Dodge [incident] and the deceased that was found,” said McInnis.”Our investigative team is investigating that with forensics and it’s going to be a while before we can determine if there is any link between the two incidences.”
The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton confirmed to CBC News that a priest died tragically in St. Paul on Friday night. Father Gilbert Dasna officiated at the Saddle Lake Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in St. Paul. It's not clear if his death is connected to the shooting.
Further details, including the gunman's name and a possible motive for the shooting, haven't been released.
Police will not be divulging any new information until they have conducted the autopsies, which are scheduled for Tuesday May 13.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which is called in when the actions of a police officer result in serious injury or death, is investigating.
'It's never happened in St. Paul'
St. Paul Mayor Glenn Andersen said the incident was nothing short of "chaotic."
"A town of our size, of 6,000 people, doesn't ever expect this to happen," he told CBC News. "It's never happened in St. Paul."
Andersen said emergency personnel in St. Paul are very close.
"The fireman who had to extricate the one RCMP member from the vehicle was very close to this person," he said. "Police are affected. Firemen are affected. Ambulance personnel are affected [as well as] any public members who were on the street at that time.
"People are going to have to go through some debriefings to understand the feelings they are feeling. I think that's going to take a lot of time to work through because it's not something we expect in our lives."
Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said the events in St. Paul are a reminder of the dangers faced by police.
"[On Friday] I was speaking at a crime prevention awards conference and one of my messages was that police officers face real and present dangers every day, they don't know what they're going to face and some of them tragically don't even come home," he said
"Little did I know that a couple hours after that that we would have three RCMP officers shot, we'd have a civilian dead and the alleged gunman dead."
"I'm just really shaken up by the whole incident," he said.
Denis extended his thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the incident on behalf of Premier Dave Hancock and all Albertans.
St. Paul is about 150 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
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