RCMP seal off access to a rural home east of Edmonton Tuesday at noon after an early morning standoff that left two officers and one suspect wounded. Trevor Wilson/CBC
The suspect in a rural standoff that left two RCMP officers injured near Tofield, Alta., will face attempted murder charges.
The man was taken into custody after an eight-hour standoff that ended early Tuesday morning.
"They took him directly from the scene by ambulance into Edmonton. I believe that he also has gunshot wounds or injuries," said Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis on Tuesday. Once the man is in stable condition, he will be formally charged. His name won't be released until then.
One officer was run over by a truck. He had surgery this morning, which was expected to last about four hours, McGinnis said. The Mountie was taken to hospital in serious condition with several broken bones and internal injuries.
Another Mountie who was grazed in the shoulder by gunfire was treated at hospital and released.
The incident took place at a home owned by a man and a woman who were associates of the main suspect. The homeowner was found in a shed 30 minutes after the suspect was arrested. The woman was also arrested but McGinnis said both were released and won't face charges relating to this incident.
The man whose house was the scene of the standoff had lived in the rural home east of Edmonton for about 30 years, say neighbours.
"He's my neighbour," said Ron Janiten, who lives next to the property. "He's not a bad guy. I think it's the company he keeps."
"One man tried to flee the area in a truck, and that’s when he ran over an officer," the CBC's Briar Stewart reported from the scene. "And shortly after that, the gunfire broke out and one officer was hit in the arm."
The incident is now being investigated by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) which investigates all police actions that cause injury or death.
Eight ASIRT investigators are now at the scene, executive director Clifton Purvis said.
Officers called to home
The incident began when RCMP were called to a home at Township Road 522 and Range Road 192, east of Elk Island National Park and north of Tofield, at about 2 p.m. MT Monday. A man had allegedly threatened to go to another residence inMundare and kill someone.
While officers were trying to track down the man who made the threats, they received a call about a break-in at a farmhouse. The farmer reported encountering a man inside his house who matched the description of the person police were looking for, McGinnis said.
The man left with three of the farmer’s long-barrelled firearms and a handgun.
Five RCMP officers went looking for the man at a house owned by one of his associates.
“Unfortunately he was at the residence when we got there and this incident unfolded,” McGinnis said.
"As the gentleman tried to exit the scene, he drove into the ditch and became stuck," he said.
"Then a firefight ensued between this gentleman and our members. I can't tell you how many rounds were exchanged but I do know that this gentleman was armed with a shotgun, a .22 and 410, as well as a handgun of an unknown calibre."
The suspect was wounded and ended up in a shed with the man who owned the property.
Not like Mayerthorpe
McGinnis rejected any comparisons to the March 2005 ambush and murders of four RCMP constables at a property in Mayerthorpe, Alta.
In this case, five RCMP members were sent to the home near Tofield – a sergeant, two corporals and two constables.
"Based on the information that we had, we attended with the resources that we believed were sufficient to deal with that risk," McGinnis said.
"We had no idea where this individual was and it was by chance that he was at this residence."
The RCMP's emergency response team was called in to contain the scene. McGinnis said criticism that the team should have been sent there sooner is unfair.
"If we went with an emergency response team to every potential witness that we wanted to interview, I think we would be criticized for being a military state rather than a police force who are conducting an investigation on trying to figure out what was going on."
The man facing charges is also a suspect in a number of break and enters into farmhouses and garages, as well as vehicle thefts, McGinnis said.
Janiten said his neighbour, who's about 50 years old, has been in trouble with police before.
Both he and his neighbour moved into the area more than 30 years ago.
"He had a divorce here a few years back," Janiten said. "He's by himself."
In a news release, Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis expressed his gratitude to the officers involved in the shooting.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the two injured officers and their families, and I wish them both full recoveries from their injuries," he said.