UPDATED: Suspect leads RCMP on day-long manhunt

A combined effort by a number of detachments and units including a helicopter resulted in the arrest of four individuals

RCMP were active in the Southview neighbourhood on Thursday morning searching for a robbery suspect.

RCMP were active in the Southview neighbourhood on Thursday morning searching for a robbery suspect.

For the Townsman

A combined effort by a number of detachments and units including a helicopter resulted in the arrest of four individuals believed to be involved in a break and enter.

The incident started just before midnight on Jan 28 when Cranbrook RCMP received a report of an alarm at a local pawnshop. Upon attendance police found the gates open and a number of items missing. Video surveillance indicated at least three subjects wearing gloves and masks were involved.

A short time later officers located two suspects at a local motel who were arrested in relation to the break in. While arresting the male and female, noise was heard coming from the bathroom. RCMP entered the bathroom and found the window was taken out and it appeared someone had exited through the window. Moments later a black VW Jetta was seen leaving from behind the motel. The vehicle took off at a high rate of speed toward Fernie. Officers conducted patrols toward Fernie, when they observed the suspect vehicle coming towards them 177km per hour. Officers activated their emergency equipment in an attempt to stop the vehicle; it did not stop and in fact sped up.

Police Dog Services attended and deployed the spike belt on highway 3, just east of Cranbrook, the suspect Jetta managed to evade the belt and continued into Cranbrook. A second RCMP member attempted to stop the vehicle but again the vehicle managed to maneuver around the police vehicle. Due to safety concerns the pursuit was terminated as the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed down the Cranbrook strip, running red lights. Extensive patrols failed to locate the black Jetta.

Later in the morning the black VW Jetta was found abandoned, which had been stolen out of Alberta, in the Southview area of Cranbrook. Area residents alerted police to two suspects seen in the area. Police converged on the area and were able to locate and arrest one subject. Extensive patrols failed to locate the second subject and police asked residents to be vigilant and call 911 if the subject was seen.

Behind a screen of trees, police are seen searching a fielded area in the Southview neighbourhood of Cranbrook.

Shortly after noon a resident contacted police when he observed a suspect fitting the descripting checking vehicles. Police headed to the area and while on route noted a grey Ford Pickup leaving the area with the suspect driving. Emergency equipment was activated but the driver failed to stop. Due the erratic driving behavior police did not pursue the suspect but attempted to monitor its location using unmarked units.

Numerous units were dispatched to various parts of Cranbrook and highways to contain the area. A local helicopter was deployed and began searching the area. The stolen truck was seen traveling out of the Cranbrook on Gold Creek Road. A police observer was able to direct units on the ground toward the vehicle. The driver then got the truck stuck in the snow, which allowed police to move in without the risk of the driver fleeing. The male was taken into custody with the assistance of a police dog.

Police were very concerned about the erratic driving observed and employed a helicopter to safely search and monitor the stolen vehicle to reduce the risk to the public.

The investigation is very involved and is still ongoing. Different names and identification has been found and police are in the midst of confirming their identity. Police are also learning that some of the subjects may have outstanding warrants and could have been involved in other incidents.  Three males and one female are facing a number of Criminal Code charges and police plan to hold a bail hearing Friday.

S/Sgt Dave Dubnyk, NCO i/c of Cranbrook Detachment says, “this was an excellent combined effort by Cranbrook, Kimberley, Southeast District Traffic Units, Police Dog Service, Forensic Identification Section and General Investigation Section which led to the successful arrest of four individuals.”

Police would like to thank the public for their calls and assistance in locating the suspects.

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