Two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were seriously wounded when they were shot at a casino today.
The RCMP said the suspect in the shootings in the central Alberta city of St Albert has been located and the public is no longer in danger, but did not indicate whether he was in custody or disclose his identity.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said one officer is in a “very grave condition” and the other is in a “serious but stable condition” at a local hospital. Officials have not yet released their names as the RCMP is still in the process of contacting family members.
Mr Degrand said a routine investigation into a suspicious vehicle led the two officers to the Apex Casino in an industrial area at around 3am local time. The officers determined that the vehicle had been stolen, and went inside the casino to look for suspects, quickly coming under fire.
The officers were hit before they had a chance to fire back at the suspect, who fled the scene, Mr Degrand said.
Police tracked the suspect – described as a white male, aged 25 to 35 – to an area south-east of the Sturgeon Valley Golf Club, not far from the casino, several hours later. Mounties blocked off several roads to a large wooded area near the golf course, while a helicopter flew overhead.
“This incident serves to remind us all of the dangers that our frontline responders everywhere face in the performance of their duties,” Mr Degrand said.
St Albert is an affluent community of about 60,000 bordering Edmonton’s city limits to the north-west where the national RCMP force handles policing.
RCMP said they cannot release information on the number of witnesses at the scene or the number of shots fired as it is an active investigation.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement on Twitter expressing his concern over the shooting.
“Canada’s thoughts & prayers are with RCMP Alberta officers today as they deal with an ongoing shooting investigation in the St. Albert area,” his tweet read.
In June, a man used a semi-automatic rifle to fatally shoot three RCMP officers and wound two others in Moncton, New Brunswick. Justin Bourque, 24, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for 75 years. In a videotaped statement to police, Bourque said he wanted to encourage people to rise up against the “soldiers” that defend federal institutions and protect the rich from the poor. He was found mentally fit to stand trial.
Bourque’s sentence was the harshest in Canada since its last executions in 1962.
The deadly attack on the national police force, a vaunted Canadian institution, shook the country.
It was the deadliest attack on the RCMP since four officers were killed by a gunman in Alberta in 2005. That attack remains the deadliest on Canadian police officers in 120 years.