Canadian Police Are Investigating A Possible "Act Of Terror" After 5 People Were Attacked In Edmonton
The suspect, reportedly a Somali man in his thirties, is now in custody.
Five people, including one police officer, were injured late Saturday night in Alberta, Canada, in what police are now investigating as a pair of possible terror attacks.
The attacks involved a man ramming a police officer, then later running down four pedestrians as he attempted to flee authorities in the city of Edmonton. The man was later arrested. Officials said Sunday a black ISIS flag was found in one of the vehicles used in the attack, and the incidents are now being investigated as "acts of terror," police in Edmonton confirmed.
Marlin Degrand, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told the Associated Press the suspected attacker was a 30-year-old from Somalia who had applied for refugee status, and was known to both Edmonton police and the RCMP. Degrand did not provide the man's name, but an unnamed official identified him to the AP as Abdulahi Hasan Sharif.
Police believe the attacker acted alone. Degrand told the AP the suspect had been flagged and interviewed in 2015 for supporting extremist ideologies. An "exhaustive investigation" was performed at the time, but authorities ultimately concluded that charges were not warranted.
Police did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment Sunday evening.
The attack Sunday began when a white Chevrolet Malibu rammed an officer who was manning a traffic checkpoint at a Canadian Football League game at around 8:15 p.m. Saturday. The impact sent the officer "flying several feet into the air," Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht said in a press conference.
"A male, believed to be 30 years old, then jumped out of the vehicle and viciously attacked the Edmonton officer with a knife," Knecht said. The officer was stabbed "several times," he said, before the suspect fled on foot. The officer's injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Shortly before midnight, officials stopped a man driving a U-Haul truck whose name matched that registered with the Chevrolet, and a police chase ensued during which the driver "deliberately attempted to hit pedestrians", Knecht said.
Austin Elgie, manager of a bar in Edmonton, told the AP he saw the chase, describing it as "crazy" and saying a bar patron was hit.
“I have a registered nurse on my bar team, and I grabbed her and had her look after the guy until the ambulance came,” Elgie said. “He was breathing and we got him in the ambulance and he was still breathing.”
The man was eventually arrested after his vehicle overturned. Knecht said Sunday that the "incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism."
Of the four other people injured, two had been released from the hospital by Sunday evening, the AP reported. Another person was upgraded from critical to stable condition, while the status of the fourth person was not immediately known. The four people reportedly suffered injuries ranging from broken bones to bleeding in the brain.
In a statement Sunday, the White House said that US law enforcement officials have been in touch with Canadian authorities about the incidents.
"We condemn the cowardly terror attacks on a police officer and pedestrians that occurred late last night in Edmonton, Canada," the statement said, adding that the administration's "thoughts and prayers are with the victims, as we hope for their speedy and complete recovery."