In an incident that's being investigated as a possible "act of terrorism", an unnamed suspect stabbed an Edmonton police constable late Saturday night before trying to ram a truck into a crowd of pedestrians while being chased by police through downtown Edmonton Saturday night, according to the Globe and Mail.
Ultimately, four pedestrians and the officer were injured when the U-Haul truck being driven by the suspect struck them before speeding away 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 was found inside the suspect's vehicle, had been seized and was part of the investigation, which now involves the the RCMP-led counterterrorism unit the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team. Knecht said the incidents are being investigated “as an act of terror” and that the attacker acted alone.
The incident happened at 8:15 pm local time near Commonwealth Stadium, when the suspect slammed his Chevy Malibu into a police barricade outside an Edmonton Eskimos-Blue Bombers game, throwing an officer 15 feet into the air. The game was designated military appreciation night.
The driver got out of the Malibu holding a knife and stabbed the officer several times, Knetch said.
The suspect then fled on foot, and, after searching the Malibu, police found identification papers for the suspect - a man in his 30s. Later Saturday night, a police officer stopped a white U-Haul truck at a police checkpoint while the manhunt was still happening, and recognized that the driver's ID bore the same name as the suspect.
The U-Haul driver sped off, leading police on a high-speed chase through downtown Edmonton, which was packed with crowds enjoying a Saturday night on the town. During the chase, the suspect tried to hit pedestrians as he passed by crosswalks and alleyways, before swerving into Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton where the truck overturned, and skidded into four people.
According to the Globe and Mail, Austin Elgie, manager of The Pint bar just west of the downtown core, witnessed the truck hitting the crowd.
"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.
Witness Kim Anderson told the Edmonton Sun: "There were people flying and everything. I'm shocked - I just see people flying."
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."
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.
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) October 1, 2017
In a statement issued Sunday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also condemned the violence in Edmonton as a "terrorist attack".
We'll never let violent extremism win. Canadians stand with the injured in Edmonton: https://t.co/4jZLhhbbla
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 1, 2017
"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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