A Somali refugee who had been on a watch list over extremist views faces five counts of attempted murder and terror charges after he stabbed a police officer and ran down four pedestrians with a car in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Saturday.
The suspect, a 30-year-old man identified as Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, by Canadian media, had been investigated two years ago for promoting extremist ideology but was not deemed a threat, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said an “exhaustive investigation” into the man in 2015 did not uncover sufficient evidence to pursue charges.
The attacks in the western Canadian city began when a Chevy Malibu hit a police officer standing in front of a football stadium at about 8:15pm Mountain time on Saturday, sending him flying into the air.
The driver got out of the car and stabbed the officer multiple times before fleeing, according to police accounts and surveillance footage of the incident.
“Currently, we believe this is an individual who acted alone, although the investigation is in its early stages,” Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht said.
Based on the actions and the evidence at the scene, the incidents were being investigated as “acts of terrorism,” police said in a statement.
“At approximately, 8:15 pm a man in a speeding white Chevy Malibu crashed through police barricades outside an Edmonton stadium where a Canadian Football League game was being played.
The car struck a police officer standing in front of his patrol car, “sending him flying 15-feet through the air.”
“A male, believed to be 30 years of age, then jumped out of his vehicle and began viciously stabbing the officer with a knife, as a struggle ensued,” the police statement said.
The suspect then fled on foot and the police officer was rushed to hospital. Just before midnight, police pulled over a rental U-Haul truck and noticed that the name on the driver’s license was similar to that of the white Malibu.
The man in the truck then took off toward downtown Edmonton, according to the police account.
“During the chase, the U-Haul truck deliberately attempted to hit pedestrians in crosswalks and alleys,” it said.
“Currently, it is believed four pedestrians were struck by the truck and transported to hospital with multiple injuries,” it said.
The chase ended when the truck flipped over, and the driver was arrested.