Suspect In Canada Terror Attack Is Somali Refugee, Police Say
A car and knife attack on a police officer and a high-speed chase of a moving van that left four people injured was the work of a Somali refugee known to police for extremist ideology, Canadian authorities said.
Marlin Degrand, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said officers took a 30-year-old man into custody in the western Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta.
Police declined to identify the man because he had not yet been charged, saying the pending charges included terrorism and five counts of attempted murder.
But Degrand said the suspect was a refugee from Somalia who had applied for refugee status, and that he was known to both Edmonton police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Degrand said he was flagged in 2015 for extremist ideologies and that police had interviewed him at the time, but he said charges were not warranted after an “exhaustive investigation”.
“To the best of our knowledge, this was a lone wolf attack,” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said.
Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said an Islamic State group flag was found in the car that hit the officer, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a terror attack.
The incident took place outside a Canadian Football League game at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night.
Police released graphic video showing a white Chevrolet Malibu ramming into a police officer standing in front of his cruiser. The officer flies into the air and the Malibu then crashes into the police car.
The driver gets out and appears to stab the officer, who wrestles the suspect to the ground and then rises as the suspect flees on foot.
“Seeing the video is very upsetting because of the level of violence and level of intent,” Iveson said.
The Edmonton police chief said Constable Mike Chernyk, a 48-year-old who has been an officer 11 years, was released from hospital with stab wounds to the face and head and abrasions on his arms.
“He was in a struggle for his life, holding on to his gun with one hand and blocking the knife with the other,” Knecht said.
A few hours later, a U-Haul van was stopped at an impaired driving checkpoint north of downtown, on Wayne Gretzky Drive. Knecht said the name of the driver was similar to the name of the registered owner of the car that hit the officer.
He said the van then sped off with police in pursuit. Police said the vehicle swerved at pedestrians throughout the chase.
Four people were hurt. Two were later released from the hospital and one was upgraded from a critical to a stable condition. Their injuries ranged from broken limbs to bleeding of the brain.
The van eventually flipped over and the suspect was arrested after a Taser was employed. No shots were fired by police or the suspect.
Trudeau said in a statement that 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”.
The White House condemned the attack and said US law enforcement was in touch with Canadian authorities to offer assistance.