Video

Acting police chief says it's 'extremely fortunate' no bystanders hurt in downtown shooting

The man who attracted a large police response in downtown Saskatoon Wednesday afternoon had shot at police members before officers returned fire and wounded him, according to the police service.

Suspect seen holding what looked like long metal pipe which turned out to be improvised firearm

A suspect running through downtown Saskatoon was sent to hospital after he was hit by shots fired by police, Wednesday night. 1:32

The man who attracted a large police response in downtown Saskatoon Wednesday afternoon had shot at police members before officers returned fire and wounded him, according to the police service.

Saskatoon Police Service acting chief Mark Chatterbok provided new details about the incident Thursday morning.

"The incident happened very quickly and was spread over a wide area of downtown," said Chatterbok. 

"We're extremely fortunate that no members of the public or our officers were injured." 

Chatterbok said the 34-year-old suspect, whom he did not identify, was seen acting suspiciously by police officers once they responded to a report of an in-progress theft from a vehicle on the 200 block of 4th Avenue. 

The scene of the incident on 4th Avenue on Wednesday. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

Stray bullet hits office window

One of the bullets pierced a second storey window in a downtown office building. 

An office manager for Collins Barrow said no one was in the board room at that time, but the dozen or so
employees in the adjacent rooms were shaken up by the apparent stray bullet.

"There's a lot of talk about how crazy that was," James Wankel said.

Wankel was outside in a nearby parking lot when he heard several shots. He saw the suspect and the police running. Wankel rushed inside his office and told everyone to get away from the window for several minutes.

Suspect had improvised firearm: police

Chatterbok said the suspect was seen holding what looked like a long metal pipe which turned out to be some type of improvised firearm.

The suspect continued to act suspiciously even as officers approached him. Officers deployed a Taser at him after he "refused to comply with officers' demands," said Chatterbok.

The Taser was unsuccessful, as were bean bag rounds fired by officers.

"Certainly the behaviour of the suspect was troubling, but I can't say whether he was high on alcohol or drugs," said Chatterbok.

The suspect then fired his weapon at officers and officers fired back, wounding the suspect in the shoulder, Chatterbok said. 

'Great deal of restraint' used

The suspect was ultimately taken into custody with the help of police dogs. He also suffered "non-life-threatening" injuries consistent with dog bites, said Chatterbok. A firearm with a live round in the chamber was recovered at the scene.

"It's evident that officers used a great deal of restraint," said Chatterbok, adding that firing their guns was a last resort.

"There was no option to just stay there and let him go." 

A suspect running through downtown Saskatoon was sent to hospital after he was hit by shots fired by police, Wednesday night. 0:19

Call for videos

Chatterbok said police were aware of at least one video, posted on social media, that showed part of the incident, including the suspect firing at officers and police firing bean bag rounds.

He asked that anyone with additional video of the incident come forward to police. 

A bystander shared this video with CBC News of an altercation in downtown Saskatoon on Wednesday. 0:17

The major crime unit's investigation of the incident remains ongoing. A use of force review will occur "down the road," said Chatterbok.  

Saskatchewan's minister of justice is assigning an "independent investigation observer" to the case, he added. 

David Laroque, the communications director for the Saskatoon Police Association, said situations like the one on Wednesday, are "very stressful for our officers."

"They go home to families just like anyone else," he said. 

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips, ideas, complaints, just want to say 'Hi'? Write me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

with files from Jason Warick