Winnipeg police cars smashed, suspect arrested
Truck seen intentionally backing up into vehicles in what police call 'very brazen' attack
A truck driver has been taken into custody after five parked police cars were rammed in Winnipeg this morning, disrupting a peaceful protest by medicinal marijuana advocates in the process.
The man was arrested following a police chase that ended west of Portage la Prairie, almost 85 kilometres west of Winnipeg on the Trans-Canada Highway, around 1:15 p.m. CT Monday.
RCMP said they would not release the suspect's name until he has been formally charged.
However, the man who was arrested has been identified by a co-worker as Wayne Rennie, an employee of B&R Transfer, a Winnipeg-based courier company.
The co-worker confirmed to CBC News that Rennie had been arrested by police following the car-smashing incident.
The co-worker, who did not want to be named, said Rennie was a good worker who showed up to work on time, made his deliveries and had a good attitude.
The owner of the company, Bill Murray, refused to comment to CBC News about the incident.
'It was no accident,' says witness
The police vehicles had their windows smashed and passenger-side doors dented when a white, five-tonne truck reversed into them outside the parkade near the Public Safety Building in the city's Exchange District.
"I've never seen anything like this … very brazen, especially during the day, and unfortunately while another public demonstration was going on," Winnipeg police Sgt. Nick Paulet told reporters at the scene.
"When he hit the first one, I thought it was an accident and he was just trying to pull into there …It was no accident," she said.
"He backed up and hit this one and just kept doing it — all of them, like, intentionally backing up — and then he took off."
Lesley Proctor, who was in a vehicle behind the truck, recorded video footage of it ramming into the last car and driving away.
"There was quite a group of people ahead down the street. I thought well, you know, hopefully there's no pedestrians because this guy, he must be crazy. Like, he's ramming these cars intentionally," she said.
A piece of metal from the truck was left behind when it was driven away.
Paulet called the smash-up an attack on both police and public property.
"Anytime this happens to the police service, I think we all — as police officers but as citizens — have to sort of scratch our heads a little bit, because all the police do is represent the interests of the citizens," he said.
Upwards of 30 city police and RCMP cars were involved in chasing the truck along the Trans-Canada Highway.
RCMP said they are working with Winnipeg police to investigate the case.
Not linked to pot protest, police say
The incident happened at the same time that marijuana advocates were smoking up outside the PSB to protest attempts by police to close the city's only medicinal marijuana dispensary.
Dispensary owner Glenn Price was visibly upset by what happened, saying the "smoke-in" was supposed to be a peaceful event.
"This is not right. This is not what I wanted," Price said as he walked by the smashed vehicles.
Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Jason Michalyshen said there is no indication the incident was linked to the marijuana rally.
The incident happened while police were updating reporters inside the PSB on the continuing search for 57-year-old Thelma Krull.