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Canada New facts suggest RCMP didn’t know Driver’s location as operation began

Aaron Driver, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a video was shot dead in a taxi after setting off an explosive device.

LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Emerging details about last week's police takedown of a terrorist sympathizer in Strathroy, Ont., suggest that the RCMP wasn't yet certain where the suspect was located when they took position outside his home.

The new facts come from the taxi driver who showed up at the scene and was slightly injured by a bomb that went off during the RCMP operation.

The cabbie, Terry Duffield, says the RCMP put his life in danger, failing to stop him and letting him wait for five minutes in the driveway of Aaron Driver's house, then moving in as he drove away.

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Related: Who was Aaron Driver?

The RCMP has refused to provide specifics about its intervention in Strathroy, saying that there is an on-going investigation.

However, according to a former RCMP tactical-squad officer, the fact that the Mounties didn't cut off access to the house indicate that they hadn't yet pinpointed where Mr. Driver was and were still secretly staking out the area.

"Were they ever able to confirm that he was in that residence? I know they had that it was the residence he was living in but was he there at the time?" Bruce MacDonald, a former member of the RCMP tactical squad, known as the Emergency Response Team, said in an interview.

"They had to stay covert until they could determine exactly where he was. And if that was the case, the ERT guys would be farther back."

The Mounties would have cordoned off the block and evacuated the surrounding houses if they were sure Mr. Driver was at home, said Mr. MacDonald, who now runs RB Mac Investigations security firm.

When The Globe and Mail spoke to him last week, Mr. Duffield said that he didn't remember the explosion, only the sound of gunshots.

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He didn't reply to interview requests made Thursday through his employer and his girlfriend, Marianne Dieckmann. However, he and Ms. Dieckmann gave similar accounts to the London Free Press and on a webpage set up to raise funds for his medical care.

The RCMP previously said it was warned early on Aug. 10 that the FBI had found a video of a masked man threatening Canadian targets.

By 11 a.m., they identified the man as Mr. Driver, a 24-year-old known for his sympathies toward the Islamic State.

Police knew that Mr. Driver, who was under a peace bond, lived with his sister at 212 Park St., in Strathroy, near London.

A bomb squad and the ERT were then sent to Strathroy, in a joint operation with the OPP and London and Strathroy police.

The ERT was still setting up when Mr. Driver called a taxi around 4 p.m. and Mr. Duffield arrived.

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The five-hour span since the RCMP identified Mr. Driver is not a lot of time, Mr. MacDonald said, noting that the ERT and bomb squad had to gather at a staging area, collect their gear and drive to Strathroy while other officers co-ordinated.

Mr. Duffield said he arrived around 4:15 p.m. and waited in the driveway for five minutes. Mr. Driver then got out of the house, carrying a black backpack.

The suspect told Mr. Duffield he wanted to go to a shopping mall in London, then prepaid the $55 fare.

As Mr. Duffield started to back out of the driveway, he heard someone shout "Stop!"

He saw in his rearview mirror "a swarm of police in SWAT gear with guns drawn," his fundraising page said.

Mr. Duffield said he told Mr. Driver, "I think they're here to talk to you."

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He tried to pick up his cigarettes. Just then, there was a blast.

"If I hadn't leaned over to grab that pack of cigarettes, I probably wouldn't be talking to you today," Mr, Duffield told the Free Press.

He said he jumped out of the car and heard an officer say "He's still twitching," then four or five gunshots.

Mr. Duffield is now asking why no one stopped him from getting into harm's way. "Even in the five minutes that I was there, no cop approached the car. Nobody tried to signal me, like get the hell out of the area – nothing."

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