RCMP officers investigate the scene of a drive-by shooting in the Wakesiah Avenue/Second Street area in March 2016. Armaan Singh Chandi, an accused in the incident, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Police officer recounts wild car chase through downtown Ladysmith and Duncan

B.C. Supreme Court trial of Armaan Singh Chandi hears of pursuit following Nanaimo drive-by shooting

A wild car chase through Ladysmith and Duncan was the focus of a drive-by shooting trial in Nanaimo yesterday.

Police involved in the car chase following a 2016 drive-by shooting in Nanaimo took the stand in the B.C. Supreme Court trial of Armaan Singh Chandi Wednesday.

Nick Barber and Caroline Narroway, Crown counsel, called Const. Allison Wanner, then with Ladysmith RCMP, to the stand and she recounted the chase following the shooting.

Wanner testified that she had received a dispatch call that day to assist Nanaimo RCMP in relation to locating a suspect vehicle, a Mazda, that may have been involved in the drive-by.

Wanner told Narroway she positioned her “fully marked” Ford Explorer at a lot at the north edge of Ladysmith, watching for the vehicle, which was believed to be southbound on the Trans-Canada Highway. She eventually observed the Mazda with its turn signal on and as it came toward her, it suddenly made lane changes and took an exit into Ladysmith.

Not too far from the exit at 1st Avenue is a traffic circle and Wanner said, the Mazda went 180 degrees through the circle and south along the street in Ladysmith. Shortly after that it took a left turn onto French Street, which she said is essentially a dead end.

Wanner said the Mazda turned onto French Street, where there was a truck blocking its way. She said she received direction to trap the vehicle, but it turned around, left over some grass and came back to its only point of exit and toward Wanner.

Wanner said she realized that the Mazda could pass her on the driver’s side and pulled her SUV to the left as well, perpendicular to the suspect vehicle, to block its exit.

The Mazda continued towards Wanner, she said, and rammed into the front passenger side of her vehicle, After the Mazda made contact, it reversed and then went forward and then pulled around her. Wanner said her vehicle was still operational and she continued pursuit.

Wanner testified that the Mazda headed back onto the highway, headed south toward Duncan and a police van was among those joining the pursuit. The Mazda was weaving in and out of lanes, according to Wanner, who also said she saw the car drive over a bike lane, through a shoulder and into an intersection, “whatever way it could so it didn’t get slowed down or stopped in traffic.” She described the way the Mazda was driven as “dangerous.”

Duncan RCMP were notified about the chase and Wanner described the traffic in Duncan as “bottleneck.” The chase ended up at the intersection of the highway and Coronation Avenue, where Wanner was told there would be a road block. The area was also one that saw a lot of pedestrians as well.

The Mazda came to a stop and Wanner said she saw the reverse lights come on. It was in the middle of the intersection at that point, she said, and could have the opportunity to turn left or right if it got away from the traffic blocking it. She turned left to turned into a left-hand turn lane in the intersection in order to block the Mazda again. She said she saw police approach the car with guns drawn and arrest the two suspects.

RELATED: One pleads guilty as 2016 drive-by shooting trial begins

Wanner did a preliminary search of the vehicle, which didn’t reveal anything, and then helped direct traffic.

Chandi, 18 when he was arrested, has pleaded not guilty to five charges related to the shooting: use of a prohibited firearm with the intention to commit murder, reckless discharge of a firearm, concealing face with the intention of committing an indictable offence, dangerous driving and failing to stop for a peace officer. The shooting occurred around 4 p.m. on March 1, 2016 in Nanaimo’s Wakesiah Avenue/Second Street area.

Inderpal Singh Aujla, the other man arrested, pleaded guilty Monday to charges, including using a prohibited firearm for attempted murder. He will be sentenced later.

The trial is expected to take two weeks and continues Thursday.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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