Charges laid in citywide carjacking, robbery spree

A 27-year-old man has been charged in connection with two robberies and nine carjacking attempts during a weekend crime spree, Calgary police said.

Police arrest man after car chase, suspect and alleged assault victim in hospital

A man has been charged in connection with two robberies and nine carjacking attempts during a 10-hour weekend crime spree, Calgary police said a day after arresting the 27-year-old following a car chase.

At a news conference Monday during which a timeline of the crime spree was released, police said the arrest of Richard David Barker of Calgary came Sunday afternoon when he ran from a stolen vehicle and was forcibly subued by officers. 

He remained in hospital for treatment for a broken nose and facial injuries, although it wasn't immediately known what led to his injuries. A 75-year-old man who had been allegedly assaulted and forced into the car also was in hospital. 

Staff Sgt. Keith Cain said Barker has been charged with three counts of robbery, unlawful confinement, pointing a firearm, possession of a firearm when prohibited, assault with a weapon and other firearm charges. A police press release said "many" other charges were pending.

Crime spree timeline

4:10 a.m.: Two men are robbed, one requires stitches

10:40 a.m.: Commercial robbery

11 a.m.: Delivery truck stolen

12:20 p.m.: Carjacking at 16th Avenue and Deerfoot Trail

12:50 p.m.: Attempted carjacking on Hidden Valley Drive N.E.

12:57 p.m.: Carjacking at Hamptons Co-op

1:25 p.m.: Carjacking on 37 Street S.W.

1:30 p.m.: Attempted carjacking at 46th Avenue and 37 Street S.W.

1:35 p.m.: Attempted carjacking on Richmond Road

1:45 p.m.: Carjacking at 16 Avenue and Russet Road N.E.

1:52: p.m.: Carjacking at 16 Avenue and 36th Street N.E.

1:55 p.m.: Carjacking on Marbank Drive N.E. 75-year-old man assaulted, forced into passenger seat

2 p.m.: Police apprehend suspect after chase on Pembrooke Drive S.E., both he and passenger are taken to hospital

Source: Calgary Police Service

Cain, with Calgary police's robbery unit, said they do not yet have a motive for the string of crimes. During the 10-hour spree, at least 30 people had a handgun pointed at them, police allege.

"We are investigating a number of incidents. Right now, we have about 13 that we are investigating. There are some others that we expect will still be reported to us," he said, adding that police believe there are more than 60 witnesses to the crimes.

Police said the spree started around 4 a.m. Sunday when two men were robbed downtown at Bromley Square, with one of the victims requiring stitches after being struck on the face. About six hours later, a commercial robbery took place on 17 Avenue S.W., and minutes later, a delivery truck was stolen from Radnor Drive N.E.  

Shortly after noon, a man armed with a gun began a two-hour carjacking spree, in which he attempted to steal nine vehicles throughout the city, police allege. Three of his attempts were unsuccessful. Initial police reports placed the carjackings at five.

Kris Aldag, along with his wife, witnessed the first carjacking on 16th Avenue and Deerfoot Trail.

"I saw the guy pull something out of his pocket, and was pointing it at a car, and three people got out of the car and he got into their car and drove away," he recalled.

A rapid succession of carjackings and attempts followed, police said.   

Cain said it's very unusual for there to be such a string of crimes with such a high level of violence.

For example, Cain said, "He dumped the Honda Civic and approached a female victim in a minivan. He pointed the handgun at her head, and grabbed her by the hair and pulled her out of the vehicle. He then screamed at a female passenger who left the vehicle.

"The offender got into the vehicle and drove away, apparently not knowing that there was a nine-year-old girl in the backseat. A short time later, he dumped that vehicle and obtained another vehicle."

The final carjacking, on Marbank Drive, took place around 1:55 p.m.

Police defend use of force

Police caught the suspect in the stolen vehicle when the chase ended around 2 p.m., on Pembrooke Drive S.E. 

Police have defended their use of force to take down the suspect. Cain said given the situation, the officers involved showed restraint by making the arrest without resorting to their guns.

"When the offender jumped out of the vehicle, we did not know whether he had the handgun on him or not, so physical force was used," said Cain. "I think the officers showed incredible restraint and valour during this whole offence and arrested a person using only physical force."

"We were certainly fearing for the lives of the citizens."