The man wanted by RCMP in the shooting of two officers earlier this week was about to turn himself in when police, eavesdropping on his phone call to his parents, arrested him first, his best friend told CBC News on Friday.


Graham Burden was relieved to hear his best friend was arrested peacefully. (CBC)

Sawyer Robison, 27, called his parents from a phone at a gas plant south of Sedgewick, Alta., at 3 a.m. Friday, just 15 kilometres from the rural home where the shooting took place, said Graham Burden.

Burden said Robison's father, Ray Robison, told his son, "''You know, you're gonna have to submit.'"

"And Sawyer, he agreed to that," said Burden. "I'm so proud of him for doing that. I didn't think he would. I didn't think that I'd see him for 10 years, honestly."

Robison's parents, Carol Clarke and Ray Robison, wanting to avoid a standoff, were on their way to pick up Robison and take him to the RCMP detachment in Killam, Burden said.

However, police were listening in on the call and arrived at the gas plant ahead of Robison's parents, where they arrested him, said Burden.

Robison 'extremely stressed'

At a news conference Friday morning, the RCMP acknowledged Robison was arrested unarmed in the company of two other people, but would not specify who.

"As you can imagine, given the circumstances of the last few days, I would characterize his condition as extremely stressed," said assistant commissioner Marianne Ryan. "Apart from that, his physical condition was relatively good."

Police continue to search for the pick-up truck and weapons Robison was thought to have in his possession, she said.

Ryan said a public plea by Burden and Robison's parents Thursday encouraging Robison to turn himself in played a significant role in ending the search peacefully.

Burden told CBC Clarke called him about the arrest at 5:45 a.m.  

"She sounded finally so relieved," said Burden. "You know, it's been such a tremendously stressful couple of days. I was just so glad for her. The relief is, it's amazing."

Burden said he too was relieved Robison was arrested peacefully.

"Everybody that knows Sawyer knows that he won't back down from something where he believes he's in the right," he said. "He won't just lay down and put his hands behind his back."

Officers recovering

Robison faces two charges of attempted murder in the shooting Tuesday of two officers from the Killam detachment.

Const. Sheldon Shah and Const. Sidney Gaudette, were shot while they were with two other officers to execute a search warrant at the home for a .45-calibre handgun owned by Robison.

Shah and Gaudette are recovering in Edmonton hospitals with non-life-threatening wounds.

"I think certainly the people of Killam wanted this resolved peacefully, without further incident,"  said RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb.

"They got their wish," he said. "They can now go back and just be peaceful in their community again."

Killam Mayor Bud James called the arrest good news.

"This has been very disturbing and unsettling for our area, and I know our citizens will be relieved at this turn of events," he said.

"I'm sure this has been incredibly stressful on Mr. Robison's family as well, so this is also good news for them."

Police believe Robison was in the house at the time of the shooting and left before the house was surrounded by tactical units.

Police eventually found Robison's uncle, Brad Clarke, dead in the house.

On Thursday, Burden and Robison's parents asked Robison to turn himself in — with his father urging him to "swallow your hurt" and come home.

The vehicle RCMP believe Robison used to leave the property has not yet been found.

On Friday afternoon, the RCMP sent out a plea to the public, asking anyone who finds the black 2000 Chevrolet Silverado with Alberta licence plate UZE 545 not to touch it.

Police believe the vehicle, which may contain weapons, could have been left in a wooded area or in an abandoned building, likely somewhere within a 100 kilometre radius of Killam.

RCMP are asking anyone who sees the vehicle not to go near it, but to call 911 or the tip line at 1-780-385-3502.