Saskatoon

What it's like seeing your carjacker shoot himself in the leg with a shotgun while going 140 km/h

Small town electrician recalls carjacking that ended with suspect shooting himself in leg with own shotgun.

Calamitous cascade began with carjacking in truck stop parking lot

A carjacking at the Flying J truck stop on Idylwyld Drive North in Saskatoon led to a harrowing ride for the vehicle's owner. (CBC)

Picture this: The guy who used a sawed-off shotgun to commandeer a half-ton truck is now driving 140 km/h north on Highway 16 with the truck's owner in the passenger seat. Then the driver drops the shotgun.

He keeps one hand on the wheel and fumbles for the gun with the other. He tries to pick it up by the trigger and blows off a chunk of his own leg. A really big chunk. 

He then tries to jam the truck's transmission into park as it's hurtling down the highway, heading out of Saskatoon.

The guy in the passenger seat figures at this point one of three things is going to happen.

"All I could keep thinking was, oh God, am I gonna get shot or am I gonna die in a car crash or am I gonna have another heart attack?" said Gary. CBC News has agreed not to publish his last name.

How did this 58-year-old journeyman electrician from small-town Saskatchewan end up in the shotgun seat of his own truck at 4 a.m. on a Wednesday?

It all started at the Flying J truck stop.

'You're taking me to North Battleford'

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, it was still plenty dark at 4 a.m. Gary was stocking up on road food and cigarettes at the Flying J truck stop on the northern edge of Saskatoon. He'd just finished a job in the city and had an hour and a half to get south to the next site.

Gary said he'd just finished a smoke and his mind was drifting to the truck's heater and the purr of the motor.

He says, 'I'm not asking you again. I'm telling you.'- Gary, carjacking victim

Tap, tap, tap.

There was a young man in a hoodie standing by his door, not dressed for the weather.

"So I rolled down the window a little bit and said, 'Can I help you?' And he said, 'It's really cold and your truck is running, would you mind if I jump in and get warmed up?' He looked OK, so I said yeah."

Gary said the man seemed down on his luck. His buddies had gone to North Battleford, about 130 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, and he wanted a ride there, but Gary said he had to get to his next job and couldn't help.

"And he asked again, and I said, 'No, man, I can't do it.' That's when the shotgun came out, pointed at me. He says, 'I'm not asking you again. I'm telling you. You're taking me to North Battleford.'"

Gary says the carjacking began after he let a man into his truck to warm up. (CBC)

Clunk and boom

Gary insisted on driving but got confused leaving the Flying J. He doesn't know Saskatoon and he was spooked by the shotgun levelled at his chest. They ended up heading north toward Prince Albert before catching the mistake, doubling back and getting onto Highway 16.

Then the man wanted to take over driving. They argued about it, but he had a shotgun so he got the wheel.

"I know he wasn't much of a driver ... I don't know if he's ever driven before because he was all over the road, but he's also doing 145, 150 kilometres per hour."

And then clunk. And boom.

"The shotgun went off in the cab," Gary said. "Well, it was deafening, for one thing, and I could see all the pellets and sparks coming out the barrel and everything else. And then he started saying, still driving that fast, 'Oh, oh, this isn't good, this isn't good.'"

They wrestled for the wheel and the gearshift, the carjacker trying to cram it into park. Gary got it into neutral and they coasted to the side of the highway. By now, the man was starting to lose consciousness, muttering, the shotgun loose on the floor.

The truck rolled to a stop. They were just outside Borden, about 50 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

'Blood everywhere'

Gary said he jumped out of the truck, raced around to the driver's side and popped open the door.

"I looked down on the floor and I could see blood everywhere, and the gun was still laying there," he said.

He grabbed the shotgun, went around to the back of the truck and tossed it into the darkness. Then he went back to the driver's side and took a good look at the man slumped behind the wheel.

"So I grabbed him — I wasn't rough with him — drug him out to the back of the truck and laid him on the ground very nicely."

I keep getting flashes of either him and his face or him holding the gun.- Gary, carjacking victim

Gary said he retrieved one of the man's shoes and a spare hoodie from the truck and laid both on the road near him. Then he retrieved his cellphone from the man's pocket, drove across the divided highway and parked.

He put on his flashers and called the police.

Suspect still in hospital

RCMP have charged 31-year-old Marty Chamakese with eight firearm-related offences, including kidnapping with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, pointing a firearm and possession for a dangerous purpose.

Chamakese is at Royal University Hospital, recovering from injury under the watch of guards. He has been charged but has not yet appeared in court. 

He declined a request from CBC News for an interview.

Gary said he's still trying to come to terms with what happened that morning. Almost two weeks later, he's still not sleeping well.

"I keep getting flashes of either him and his face or him holding the gun."

Chamakese is due in court Nov. 28.

About the Author

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.