Attempted murder charges filed in Canada car, knife attack

AP News
Posted: Oct 02, 2017 3:50 PM
Attempted murder charges filed in Canada car, knife attack

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Prosecutors on Monday filed charges including attempted murder against a man suspected of ramming his car into a policeman, stabbing him and then injuring four people while leading officers on a high-speed chase.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif faces five counts of attempted murder, five counts of dangerous driving and one weapons charge in connection with the incident late Saturday in the western city of Edmonton.

The 30-year-old suspect is a Somali refugee who was previously investigated for allegedly espousing extremism. An Islamic State group flag was found in the car, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a terror attack.

Police have said terrorism charges are expected but are holding off on that for now. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Supt. Stacey Talbot, of Alberta's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, said the investigation is still "in its infancy."

"As the investigation unfolds and further information is garnered, and if additional charges are supported, they will be pursued at that time," Talbot said.

The suspect was in custody with a bail hearing scheduled for Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer yet.

Edmonton police say they believe he acted alone during the series of attacks, which began around 8:15 p.m. Saturday as police Const. Mike Chernyk was handling crowd control outside a Canadian Football League game at a stadium just northeast of downtown.

He was hit by a speeding white Chevy Malibu that rammed through a barrier and sent him flying through the air.

The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Chernyk as he lay on the ground. The officer fought back, and the suspect fled on foot.

Chernyk suffered cuts on his face and abrasions on his arms but was expected to make a full recovery.

Police distributed the name and physical description of the Malibu's registered owner and set up roadblocks, and officers stopped the suspect, now driving a U-Haul truck, hours later at a checkpoint.

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The driver took off toward downtown with police in high-speed pursuit, striking four pedestrians along the way. The chase continued until police forced the truck to crash on its side. Officers used a stun gun on the driver and took him into custody.

Two of the four pedestrians remain hospitalized, one with a fractured skull.

In Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Sharif entered Canada legally in 2012 and obtained refugee status, and nothing about him had raised any red flags at the time.

RCMP assistant commissioner Marlin Degrand said Sunday that the suspect was checked thoroughly in 2015 after police received a report that he may have been radicalized. Investigators determined he did not pose a threat.

Degrand said files on the suspect were shared with other intelligence and police agencies.