Calgary murder suspect dead, officer hurt in shootout west of Edmonton, sources say

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has been directed to investigate an officer-involved shooting in the Evansburg area west of Edmonton, it said in a tweet Thursday night.

Police believe dead man is Adam Bettahar, 21, who was wanted in killing of Nadia El-Dib, 22

'He tried to ram some cops and ended up getting in a gunfight'

5 years ago
Duration 0:14
Trucker Rory Collins was driving past the scene of a shootout between police and a man.

An RCMP officer was shot Thursday in a shootout west of Edmonton, and sources tell CBC News a Calgary murder suspect died in the gunfire.

Sources told CBC News the man who died was 21-year-old Abderrahmane "Adam" Bettahar, who was wanted for first-degree murder.

Adam Bettahar, 21, was wanted in connection with the death of a woman whose body was discovered in a northeast Calgary park on Sunday morning. (Calgary Police Service)

The officer suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital by air ambulance, police said. The officer is with the detachment in Evansburg, a small community about 100 kilometres west of the Alberta capital near where the altercation took place.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating.

"It was a high-risk situation and therefore a high-stress situation," RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Laurel Scott told CBC News.

Calgary police had been looking for Bettahar after the body of a young woman was found in the city's northeast on Sunday morning. Police identified the woman as Nadia El-Dib, 22.

The body of a young woman found in the city's northeast on Sunday morning was identified as Nadia El-Dib. (Submitted by Racha El-Dib)

A Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued Monday for Bettahar.

Police said Bettahar and El-Dib were in a relationship.

The events leading to the shootout began in the late afternoon Thursday when an officer "located a male believed to be wanted on a Canada-wide warrant out of Calgary," RCMP said in a news release. ASIRT confirmed that suspect was a 21-year-old man driving a vehicle associated with a Calgary homicide investigation.

Around 5:15 p.m., police tried to stop the suspect in his vehicle. When he didn't stop, police took up the pursuit.

The chase continued on Highway 16 between Evansburg and Entwistle, "travelling eastbound and westbound multiple times," police said. The two communities are fewer than five kilometres apart.

Police successfully used a tire-deflation device while the suspect's vehicle was eastbound near Nojack. The suspect continued driving east until the vehicle stopped where highways 16 and 22 meet.

"A confrontation occurred between the RCMP members and the male suspect, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle," police said. "The male was injured fatally and the RCMP member suffered minor injuries."

ASIRT said an autopsy for the suspect is scheduled for Tuesday.

Officers from the Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Edson and Drayton Valley detachments helped Evansburg members during the pursuit, police said.

A STARS air ambulance spokesperson said a helicopter was dispatched to the scene at approximately 7 p.m.

They transported one 59-year-old man to the University of Alberta Hospital in stable condition.

The road information service 511 Alberta said a portion of Highway 16 about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton was closed in both directions "following reports of heavy police activity in the area."

Motorists were advised to use alternative routes. Police remained at the scene as they continue their investigation.

Trucker witnessed shootout

​Trucker Rory Collins, who drove by the scene, told CBC News he saw RCMP and an armed person exchanging gunfire. He said he heard 30 or 40 shots.

Collins said he knew something was happening when several police vehicles sped past him as he was westbound on Highway 16, approaching the intersection with Highway 22.

Police had stopped some traffic but the westbound lanes of Highway 16 were still open, so Collins drove on.

He said he saw 10 or 15 RCMP vehicles stopped near a dark-coloured SUV that was parked at an angle on the roadway.

A man armed with a rifle was on the ground beside the SUV, Collins said, adding the man looked like he was trying to use the vehicle for cover.

"He was laying on the ground and he was reloading his rifle," Collins said.

"The guy wasn't going to be arrested. He was going down."

'Like I was in a war zone'

Police officers fired their weapons toward the armed person from behind their vehicles, he said.

"It's surreal," Collins said. "I'm still kind of in a daze because, you know, you only hear about this stuff on the news.

"And as I was going by, it sounded like I was in a war zone so I can only imagine what, you know, soldiers would feel like with the sound of this continuous gunfire, because to me it sounded like 30 or 40 shots that were fired.

"It gives me a new appreciation for what the police have to go through on a daily basis."

With files from Anna McMillan, CBC Calgary and The Canadian Press