Officer injured, two police cruisers destroyed on Salt Spring Island

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Shortly after 12:00 am on August 29th, 2015, officers with the Salt Spring Island RCMP were conducting an impaired driving checkpoint in the 100 Block of Upper Ganges Road, when a man driving a Chevrolet Blazer attempted to avoid the checkpoint, nearly striking an officer who was on foot.

A police car, stationary on the roadway at the time, was then rammed head-on by the suspect vehicle. Officers approached the SUV, smashing out the driver’s side window in an attempt to gain control of the suspect. A second police vehicle attempted to box the suspect vehicle in and was also rammed as the suspect drove back and forth between the two police vehicles, causing significant damage to both. Despite their attempts to stop the man from driving away, he managed to manoeuver his vehicle out from between the two police cars, and flee northbound on Upper Ganges Road. A third police vehicle followed the suspect vehicle, locating it a short distance away, upside-down in the ditch.

As officers and local fire crews arrived at the crash scene, they attempted to render assistance to the suspect, who was seated upright on the interior roof of the vehicle (vehicle upside down). The man then armed himself with an axe from inside the SUV, and attempted to use a lighter to light the vehicle on fire. An on-scene firefighter familiar with the suspect was successful in persuading him to surrender the axe, but the man continued to physically resist attempts by first responders to assist him. After several hours, the suspect was forced from the vehicle and apprehended under the Mental Health Act. He was transported to the local hospital for medical assessment.

The extent of the suspect’s physical injuries are unknown at this time, but not believed to be serious in nature. As per notification protocols, the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO BC) has been notified of this incident. The IIO BC has reserved their decision on asserting jurisdiction at this time, pending a determination of the extent of the man’s injuries. They will continue to monitor this case.

The officer seated in the first police car sustained neck and back injuries. The Constable, with eight years of service, has been treated and released from medical care. He is expected to be off duty for a period of time. There were multiple witnesses in the area at the time, but thankfully none were injured.

While this investigation is in its early stages, officers have determined that the truck driven by the suspect was stolen. The motive behind the suspect’s actions are not yet known, however mental health factors may have played a role. Charges have not yet been laid, but are expected as this investigation progresses.

Police ask anyone who witnessed this incident, or captured video of it, to contact the Salt Spring Island RCMP at 250-537-5555.