A routine patrol on public land in the heart of Stz’uminus First Nation on Wednesday led to a few tense moments after a Ladysmith RCMP constable feared for his life and fired a single shot.
The Mountie came across a silver van parked at Elliot Beach Park, just off Shell Beach Road near Coffin Point, shortly before 11 a.m. and ran its licence plate. The vehicle was reported stolen to Nanaimo RCMP a day earlier.
According to Ladysmith RCMP Staff Sgt Ken Brissard, two RCMP members approached the vehicle from either side, ordered the 22-year-old Duncan man out of the van and told him he was under arrest for possession of stolen property.
“The vehicle’s running but unbeknownst to the members it’s in drive,” Brissard told the Chronicle. “Then all of the sudden he jumps on the gas and (allegedly) cuts towards the one member and then a shot is fired and the vehicle takes off and they don’t know what direction it’s going.”
Exiting Elliot Beach Park, the vehicle could have travelled in three different directions to leave the area.
Several residents reported seeing multiple RCMP vehicles travelling at a high rate of speed towards Brenton Page Road and over to Cedar Road.
Brissard said there was never a pursuit and that a Stz’uminus resident helped police track down the vehicle after it was abandoned.
Nanaimo RCMP brought in a canine to assist and police were quickly able to track down the suspect.
“He comes out of the bush onto the roadway and they capture him without incident,” Brissard said.
In the interest of transparency, Ladysmith RCMP have asked that Island District RCMP investigators take over the case.
The Duncan man was known to other RCMP detachments but not here in Ladysmith.
Brissard said the Mountie in this incident feared for his life and the potential for a routine traffic stop to go sideways demonstrates the everyday risks of the job.
“We are trained to use our weapon when we fear grievous bodily harm or death to ourselves or another person,” he said.