EDMONTON (NEWS 1130) – The suspect arrested after a series of violent attacks that saw an Edmonton police officer stabbed and several pedestrians run down by a truck is facing possible terrorism charges.
Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht did not release the 30-year-old suspect’s name, but said that five charges of attempted murder are also expected to be filed.
“While we are grateful nobody was killed, this was still a terrible tragedy for the victims, their families and the broader community,” says Knecht.
He explains the chaos began outside the Edmonton Eskimos football game Saturday night when police say a car rammed a traffic barricade and an officer was stabbed several times.
“He was in a struggle for his life, holding on to his gun with one hand and blocking the knife with his other.” Knecht says though the constable is expected to make a full recovery and has been released from hospital, he did sustain serious injuries to his head, face and arm.
It was a few hours after the initial attack when police chased a U-Haul cube van through the city and four pedestrians were injured. One person suffered a fractured skull but has regained consciousness.
The chase ended when the van rolled near a downtown hotel and the suspect was arrested.
RCMP assistant commissioner Marlin Degrand says the man has been on the radar of authorities since 2015 when a complaint was filed suggesting he may have been radicalized.
“As a part of that 2015 investigation, members of the K-division INSET interviewed among others this suspect as well,” he says. “At the end of that exhaustive investigation there was insufficient evidence to pursue terrorism charges or a peace bond. Further, the suspect was actually not deemed at that time to pose a threat to the security of Canada based upon the information that was available to the prosecutors.”
Degrand says the suspect is a Somali national who was in the process of making a refugee claim in Canada.
The federal government is maintaining the current National Terrorism Threat Level at “medium”, where it’s been since October 2014.
Leaders, communities react
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, speaking publically after the attacks, says he is confident the situation is under control. “I’m happy to be able to tell you that all orders of government and all agencies appear to be working very smoothly together.”
He warns against being intimidated by violence, and has declared his city won’t be divided by this hatred.
Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says people around Edmonton need to be vigilant in the wake of these attacks.
She says she’s shocked and angry at the ‘indiscriminate cruelty’.
“The provincial role in responding to these horrific acts is to support police services generally and to support the interaction between municipal authorities and federal authorities,” she says. “I am confident in the efforts of all of our law enforcement officials to keep our province safe and secure.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims has released a statement condemning the “brazen and senseless attacks”.
“We denounce these cowardly acts of wanton violence in Edmonton. There is never any justification for such criminal acts. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.
“Canadian Muslims stand united with all Canadians against all forms of hate and violence. We urge local authorities to bring the perpetrator quickly to justice. Such despicable acts must be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” says Gardee.
BC Premier John Horgan’s statement:
“I was shocked and saddened to learn of last night’s violent attacks against police and the people of Edmonton. British Columbians stand united with the people of Alberta – and all Canadians – against violence and hate in all its forms.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and all Albertans affected by the attacks.”