Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht confirmed at a Sunday news conference they had arrested an individual who is accused of injuring a police officer with a knife and driving into four other people late Saturday night, CBC News reports. The police are describing the event as a terrorist incident.
Though police have not released the suspect’s name, various media have identified the accused as 30-year-old Somali refugee Abdulahi Sharif. Knecht says the suspect will be charged with terrorism, five counts of attempted murder, dangerous driving and possession of a weapon.Thirty-year-old Abdulahi Sharif of Edmonton is the man being held in connection with Saturday night’s vehicle attacks in Alberta’s capital, multiple sources told Global News.
In a statement Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his oft-repeated phrase that Canada’s “strength comes from our diversity.”
“We believe the individual acted alone” said Knecht, who reported that a black ISIS flag was found at the scene of the stabbing. The police officer is in stable condition. The full status of the pedestrians is unknown, however they are believed not to be dead but still injured.
”Based on evidence at the scenes and the actions of the suspect…it was determined that these incidents are being investigated as acts of terrorism,” Knecht said.
The first incident occurred at 8:15 p.m. Saturday when a Chevy Malibu struck a police officer. He was thrown about 15 feet into the air and when he landed the occupant of the vehicle starting stabbing him.
The assailant then fled on foot. Hours later, after a city-wide manhunt, a suspect was stopped in a white U-Haul van. Before police could arrest him, the driver sped through downtown Edmonton with police cars in pursuit. After striking a number of late-night bar patrons, the van crashed into a building and flipped over on its side.
Pat Hannigan, a bystander, was about a quarter-block away when he heard a loud bang.
“I saw the van on its side, it flipped over, U-Haul van,” he told CBC. “And they had a guy handcuffed on the ground and obviously they smashed out the window. They had a pipe or something in their hand.”
Knecht said a high-speed chase ensued “due to the seriousness of the offence — or the believed offence.”
In his Sunday statement, Trudeau said he was “deeply concerned and outraged by this tragedy.”
Trudeau suggested the incident was “another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against…We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Sunday that the National Terrorism Threat Level for Canada “remains at ‘medium.’”