An intersection at the centre of an Alberta town rocked by a terrifying shootout remained closed on Saturday, leaving residents to peer at the wreckage and wonder whether events that left a priest and a suspect dead, and three Mounties injured, were connected.
The Diocese of St. Paul confirmed that Father Gilbert Dasna, 32, who served in this small community northeast of Edmonton, was killed Friday during a violent incident that occurred at the church rectory.
Mounties have said that about the same time, gunshots rang out near the town’s RCMP detachment, and police began hunting for a black Dodge pickup that was seen leaving the area.
Police said the truck later rammed a police cruiser in downtown St. Paul, seriously injuring an officer and leaving two other Mounties with injuries from a shootout that ended with the suspect in the truck dead.
Police say would be premature to speculate on the cause of death of the suspect until an autopsy and ballistics tests are performed.
Investigators said they don’t know yet whether the priest’s death, which they consider a homicide, is related to the violent confrontation downtown.
Pierre Lamoureux, a spokesman for the diocese, said a church official was told Dasna was found lying inside the door of the rectory suffering from what were believed to be gunshot wounds to the chest.
Lamoureux said the church has no idea if the assailant is connected with the person who died during the confrontation with police, or what motive anyone may have had for killing Dasna.
“It’s very disturbing. People don’t know what happened and that is, or course, the first step toward healing and grieving and moving on in Father Dasna’s memory,” Lamoureux said.
“He was well-loved. He was a man of joy, a man of peace.”
RCMP said the incident started suddenly around the supper hour. Gunshots were heard just outside the town’s RCMP detachment and members ran out and saw a black Dodge pickup truck leaving the parking lot.
At the same time, a call came in about a male in distress at a residence a few blocks away. Mounties responded and transported an injured man to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, other officers looking for the black truck found it on the east side of town. It then turned around, police said, and headed back into the core. Police said the driver shot and hit a police officer in one cruiser, and then appeared to purposely ram another police vehicle.
RCMP said more officers arrived and the driver began shooting at them, and that police fired back.
They said the suspect, who they identified as John Carlos Quadros, 55, of St. Paul, died at the scene.
The incident shook police officers. Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis compared it to a “horrific movie scene.”
Police have said that the most seriously injured officer was in the RCMP vehicle that was rammed, and that she suffered extensive injuries to both legs.
On Saturday, they said she was in serious condition but that her injuries were not life-threatening.
The two other officers, police said, have been treated and released. One was hit in the hand by a bullet, police said, while the other was hit in the face by flying glass.
Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team, a provincial unit that investigates the use of force by police, has now taken over the probe into the gunfight with police that left the suspect dead.
Mounties, meanwhile, will continue the investigation into Dasna’s death.
RCMP staff Sgt. Ron Campbell and Lynn Crawford with the provincial investigation unit both said they were conducting “parallel” investigations.
More than a block of 50th Avenue, the main street in St. Paul, was closed to traffic for much of Saturday as the investigation continued. The smashed black truck was still there in the morning, according to workers in a few businesses that were able to open because they had back doors accessible from other streets.
Customers who ventured downtown on Saturday were talking about what had happened, according to Victor Mailloux, an employee at St. Paul Foundry Ltd.
“We’re not scared. We’re a bit in the dark,” Mailloux said.
The Diocese of St. Paul said Dasna was born in Cameroon and had served in St. Paul since 2011.
It said his death occurred on the third anniversary of his arrival in Canada, which was May 9, 2011.
It said its bishop and its members of the diocese will pray for the priest’s soul, as well as for the soul of his alleged assailant.Report Typo/Error