Three suspects are in custody after an Alberta sheriff was shot in the hand during an incident at the local courthouse in a community northwest of Edmonton late Tuesday morning.

RCMP in Whitecourt, which is about 180 kilometres outside the capital, said the sheriff sustained “a non-life threatening gunshot wound” to the hand during the incident.

The shooting took place shortly around 11:30 a.m. local time Tuesday, police said.

“During the incident, two prisoners escaped and fled in the sheriff's van,” the RCMP said in a statement. “Shortly after the incident, Whitecourt RCMP located the vehicle and apprehended the two suspects.”

The arrests took place at a farmhouse just outside Whitecourt, where a third suspect was also detained.

Alberta sheriffs are law enforcement officers whose duties include security at courthouses and transport of prisoners.

Whitecourt Mayor Trevor Thain said the suspects were among six that were arrested during a drug bust in the community last week. During the raid, police say they recovered cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and an illegal firearm.

Two of the suspectsin the shooting were due to appear in court Tuesday on that case.

Kathlene Campbell-Conlon, a reporter for local radio station CFXW who was at the courthouse to cover the proceedings, told The Canadian Press the incident began with a commotion outside the courtroom, in a hallway used to transport prisoners.

"An officer that was in the court at the time hopped the guard rail and ran behind the door," said Campbell-Conlon. "The door (was) shut, you heard more fights, you heard a couple high-pitched screams, then two, maybe three gunshots."