Suspect charged with attempted murder of 5 RCMP officers after Merritt shootout
Gerald Hartley Cooper was scheduled to appear in Fort St. John this week on firearms charges
A man has been charged with the attempted murder of five RCMP officers after a weekend shootout that left an adult male suspect and an 11-year-old child with injuries.
According to court records, Gerald Hartley Cooper is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Kamloops, B.C., on Wednesday for a bail hearing on five counts of attempted murder and one count of failing to stop a vehicle while being pursued by police.
The charges follow an incident in Merritt, B.C., that spanned nearly two hours on Saturday afternoon, when police attempted to stop a Ford F-350 truck with a flatbed trailer that was allegedly associated with a stolen property file.
The suspect vehicle allegedly refused to stop and evaded police. It was later spotted again by police, who used a spike belt to stop the truck before it took off again and finally came to rest, at which point police apprehended the driver.
RCMP say gunfire was exchanged throughout the incident, which is now under investigation by B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office. The IIO routinely steps in to handle cases involving police shootings.
Cooper — who was born in 1975 — made an initial in-custody appearance through the province's Justice Centre on Monday evening. The centre operates around the clock to handle virtual bail hearings on the evenings and weekends.
The names of the five alleged victims match those of members of the Merritt detachment who have been identified in media releases in recent years, including that of a new arrival to the force who only recently graduated from the RCMP training depot.
According to court records, Cooper was slated to appear in provincial court in Fort St. John, B.C., on Thursday to enter pleas in relation to two weapons counts.
He was charged last year with manufacturing or transferring a weapon and with possession of a magazine with the clip removed. Cooper was released on a notice of undertaking.
On Monday, the IIO said that a man and his 11-year-old son were found inside the truck with serious injuries and taken to hospital.
Both the man and the boy were said to be recovering.
The IIO has taken over the case and will be investigating whether officers' actions or inactions led to the injuries.
None of the charges have been proven in court.