“At 12:38 it was determined that these incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism,” Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht told reporters at a 3am press conference while confirming that an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) flag was discovered in the suspect’s vehicle.
“We currently believe this individual acted alone. We are urging Edmontonians to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings,” Knecht said, adding that the suspect, a 30-year-old Edmonton man, was known to police.
The attacker crashed his Chevrolet Malibu SUV into a police barricade outside the stadium reports Global News. An officer of the Edmonton Police Service was thrown 15 feet into the area when the vehicle crashed into the traffic control barricade, according to CBC, and reportedly the driver then stabbed the same officer.
“The officer was approached by an unknown male suspect in a vehicle at which time the suspect rammed the police cruiser,” said Edmonton Police Service spokesman Scott Pattison, as cited by Global News. “The suspect then got out of the vehicle and approached the officer and an altercation ensued.”
Almost two hours later, at approximately 11:30pm local time, a white U-Haul van was stopped at a police checkpoint while the manhunt was still underway. The officer recognized the name on the driver’s ID as matching that of the owner of the SUV used in the attack.
The suspect then drove off at speed and rammed through the police checkpoint, triggering a high-speed chase through the downtown area, packed with Saturday night crowds.
“That high-speed chase should have never, ever in a million years have happened downtown,” said eyewitness Brian McNeill as cited by CBC.
The van eventually flipped onto its side after colliding with four people in the course of the pursuit. The suspect was arrested immediately and remains in custody.
“They [police] were pulling him out of the windshield, then handcuffed him,” eyewitness Pat Hannigan told The Edmonton Journal.
When asked why the decision was made to continue the chase through heavily populated areas, Chief Knecht said: “Due to the seriousness of the offense, or the believed offense, is why the chase was not called off.”