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Officer Wounded in Winnipeg Standoff That Ends in Arrest of Sleeping Suspect

May 01, 2002
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Officer Wounded in Winnipeg Standoff That Ends in Arrest of Sleeping Suspect

by Scott Edmonds, Associated Press

WINNIPEG (CP) - A 12-hour armed standoff that started with the shooting of a police officer ended quietly Thursday morning with the suspect nabbed while taking a nap in the downtown building where he had holed up.

Almost nine hours earlier, he had released his lone female hostage who was taken after one police officer was shot in the arm and another was hit by flying glass fragments from a shotgun blast.

A 32-year-old man was in custody and being questioned Thursday morning after police decided patience was their best weapon to end the stalemate.

"Police became aware that this individual had probably fallen asleep," said Const. Bob Johnson.

"Once all the appropriate risks were measured officers entered the suite, took him into custody without incident, and no shots were fired and nobody injured."

Police still haven't released all the details but it's believed the incident started at a massage parlour in the building, which was located only a few blocks from the police station and city hall.

Patrons of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet were caught in the traffic snarl that ensued after dozens of police cars blocked streets around the three-storey brick building on the edge of Winnipeg's Chinatown.

Diners at a busy Chinese restaurant next door were among the first to learn that something was amiss.

"I was scared, I didn't know what was going on," said Diana Kircz, after police entered the Marigold and started moving patrons to the basement so they could be evacuated safely.

"They said there had been shots fired."

Anyone who didn't want to leave were told they'd be handcuffed if necessary.

Police said the incident started when a pair of officers were called to the building because of a dispute with a customer at a business in the building.

"As police arrived at the scene, this individual produced a rifle and a shot was fired," Johnson said, changing that later to a shotgun.

The injured officers were taken to the Health Sciences Centre as dozens of police officers surrounded the site.

Johnson said the shot officer was not seriously injured but was "somewhat traumatized" by the incident.

Bob Paquin, a retired police officer, was eating at the Chinese restaurant when chaos erupted.

"All of a sudden lots of police officers . . . came into the neighbourhood with their guns drawn," he said.

Kircz said everyone was first ordered into the dining room where it was safer.

"Then they took us down to the basement and told us they'd give us a safe route out to a bus."

The building where the incident took place is located at the start of one of the seediest strips of Main Street, despite the presence of the Centennial Concert Hall and Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature across the street.

Decrepit hotels and rundown bars share space with boarded-up buildings and litter-strewn vacant lots.

Wednesday's shooting was the latest in a series of attacks over recent months on Canadian police officers.

In February, Montreal police Const. Benoit L'Ecuyer was fatally shot after chasing a speeding car on a highway.

About a week earlier, RCMP Const. Mike Templeton was wounded when he was shot in the face after stopping a suspected stolen vehicle near Portage la Prairie, Man.

And in December, RCMP Const. Dennis Strongquill was shot and killed near Russell, Man., after he and his partner stopped a truck on the highway. One suspect was killed in a gun battle with police.

Johnson said the shootings indicate an alarming trend.

"It's certainly more than usual, more than we ever want to deal with," he said. "It's a situation we're prepared to face on a daily basis. You never know what you're getting into."

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