Police probing whether death of priest 'related' to shootout in Alberta
Josh Elliott and Fan-Yee Suen, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, May 10, 2014 7:09AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 10, 2014 10:07PM EDT
Police are investigating whether the death of a Catholic priest is "related to the events" that left one suspect dead and three RCMP officers injured after a gunfight broke out in St. Paul, Alta. on Friday night.
In a statement on Saturday, RCMP confirmed that the Catholic priest’s death was being treated as a homicide, and investigators were probing any possible links to a shootout that occurred on the same night.
"The RCMP continues to investigate this homicide in an effort to determine whether the victim’s death is related to the events that resulted in the injury of three RCMP members and the death of the suspect," police said in a statement.
On Friday at around 6 p.m. local time, emergency crews responded to a distress call at a church rectory in St. Paul. They took one person to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Police did not release the name of the victim, but the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton on Saturday identified him as Father Gilbert Dasna.
Dasna was a “good man and a good priest who radiated daily both joy and peace," a statement from the archdiocese said.
At around the same time crews were responding to the distress call on Friday, police said a man in a black pickup truck rammed an RCMP vehicle in downtown St. Paul, pinning the officer inside.
"This vehicle appeared to have purposely rammed one of our marked police vehicles," Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis told reporters. "The impact of the collision trapped one of our members inside the vehicle."
The suspect then opened fire on two male RCMP officers in a second car, police said. The officers returned fire.
The driver of the truck died at the scene. Police would not say on Saturday whether the suspect's fatal wound was self-inflicted or the result of RCMP gunshots.
RCMP said the female officer who was pinned in her car suffered extensive injuries to both legs. She was extracted from the marked police vehicle using the Jaws of Life and airlifted to an Edmonton hospital.
Police said on Saturday she is in serious condition but her injuries are not life-threatening.
The two RCMP officers in a second car were also injured during the gunfight. A senior male officer with 15 years on the job suffered facial injuries from shattered glass and a young male RCMP officer was shot in the hand. Both were treated and released from hospital on Friday night.
Witnesses said the scene was horrific, like something out of a movie.
"It was really surreal for a town like St. Paul," Mike Vanderhoek, an oilfield worker, told The Canadian Press. Vanderhoek, who lives not far from the small town, said he was a few blocks from the incident when he heard what sounded like rifle shots.
"Some people were ducking behind cars to take cover," he said.
Police said the incident began when officers heard shots outside the St. Paul RCMP office.
They went outside and saw a black pickup truck speeding eastbound toward a main street. The vehicle was then seen driving fast through town before it turned around and came back to the police station, according to witnesses. It then appeared to intentionally ram an RCMP car, police said.
Numerous weapons have been recovered from inside the vehicle, police said.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney on Saturday released a statement saying he joins "all Canadians in wishing (the injured officers) a quick and full recovery."
He added that the incident is “yet another reminder of the dangers faced by members of our law enforcement community who work each day to keep our country safe.”
Earlier on Friday, Alberta's Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis also issued a statement saying that his thoughts were with those affected by the gunfight.
"On behalf of Premier Hancock and all Albertans, I extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone and their families affected by this serious incident," he said.
Police are investigating the incident. They said the driver of the truck was not known to police, and they have no leads on a motive for the rampage.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the RCMP officers' actions because a civilian was killed, police said.
Police have identified the suspect as John Carlos Quadros, 55, of St. Paul.
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Julia Parrish and Amanda Anderson, CTV News’ Janet Dirks and The Canadian Press