Two Alberta Mounties were recovering in hospital Tuesday evening as police continued to surround a secluded central Alberta home where a shooting broke out hours earlier.
The injured officers, both from Killam, which is about 160 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, were called to the rural residence at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. They had a warrant to search for a handgun, police said.
One officer, who was shot in the back, was airlifted to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, and a second officer, who was shot in the leg, arm and shoulder, was flown to the University of Alberta Hospital, according to Alberta’s Solicitor-General Jonathan Denis.
Both required surgery but are in stable condition, said RMCP Sergeant Patrick Webb.
He said arrests have yet to be made and police are looking for at least one armed suspect and another person they believe was involved in the shooting.
Sgt. Webb said he couldn’t confirm earlier reports that one suspect was dead.
“There were shots fired, there could be other people injured, but we don’t know because we haven’t gone into the house,” he said. “We’re not about to send an RCMP officer up to knock on the door.”
“We’re trying to just resolve it without any further injury to anybody,” he added.
Residents in Killam and Hardisty, both small towns whose economies are fueled by the oil and gas sector, said police vehicles and ambulances were speeding along local highways all afternoon.
Around 3 p.m., a STARS air-ambulance helicopter was dispatched from Edmonton and four minutes later, a second helicopter was sent from Calgary, according to spokesman Cameron Heke.
Mr. Heke said one helicopter was ordered to return to Killam on standby, but he couldn’t provide further details about who made the request or why.
Residents also said police responded to a domestic disturbance at a rural trailer just outside of Hardisty on the weekend, an incident that was the talk of the town even before news spread of the shootings. Rumours were flying that a man wanted to kill somebody in Hardisty.
“Everybody knew about it,” said Michael DeSantos, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, but he didn’t know the identify of the alleged victim.
It’s also not clear what came of the police response to the residence on the weekend.
“My daughter just called me out of the blue to tell me she loves me and that she’s scared. It’s affected everybody,” Mr. DeSantos said.
Premier Alison Redford said she had “very limited” information about what transpired, but expressed concern.
“I'm glad there's no loss of life, but sometimes these shootings can lead to pretty serious injuries, so my hopes and prayers are with their families,” Ms. Redford said.
Killam Mayor Bud James, who was in Edmonton to attend the Throne Speech at the legislature, was shocked by the news that members of his town were injured.
“At this point, all I’d like to say is the RCMP officers in Killam are a big part of our community, and they’re friends and neighbours,” Mr. James said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families at this time. If we know more, we’ll certainly be able to let you know.”
And Doug Griffiths, the MLA for the region who hails from Hardisty and is also the Minister of Municipal Affairs, was also touched by the incident.
“It’s not just going to impact Killam. It’s going to impact all Albertans,” Mr. Griffiths said, “It’s a reminder of what happened at Mayerthorpe, and it’s a reminder of just what our RCMP officers are willing to give. They are integral parts of our community. We see them every day. It’s going to affect all Albertans, and our prayers are with them.”
In 2005, four Mounties were shot and killed at a rural residence near Mayerthorpe while guarding a suspected crime scene. The gunman, James Roszko, killed himself in the melee.
Mr. Denis, the Solicitor-General, learned about the incident after the Throne Speech and said he was “pretty shaken up.”
“The average person needs to know the sacrifices some of these people make putting themselves in harm's way. It's a very important job but it can be a very dangerous one too,” Mr. Denis said.