A stolen fire truck swerved toward people as it drove through a downtown Winnipeg park as more than a dozen police vehicles chased it on Friday afternoon, police say.
The truck weaved through Winnipeg’s Munroe neighbourhood to Portage Place Shopping Centre and across the grass at Central Park before it stopped on Assiniboine Avenue underneath the Midtown Bridge.
“The threat was very real here,” Const. Rob Carver said. However, police do not believe it was an act of terrorism, he said.
The vehicle was first reported stolen by an off-duty firefighter who noticed the driver was wearing street clothes, Carver said.
The next report about the stolen truck was that it hit a vehicle on Henderson Highway at Donalda Avenue and knocked down a hydro pole.
The truck then drove into the downtown.
“It drove onto the grass in Central Park. Early indications are that there were attempts to hit civilians in the park. None were hit,” Carver said, adding that officers pursuing the vehicle witnessed this.
Although the vehicle wasn’t travelling fast — between 20 and 50 km/h — police were told to continue the chase, even though there was a risk to the public.
“At one point, an update from one of our officers was that it had run into a tree and through stop signs and was swerving, actively trying to hit everything he could on the way.”
Carver said police deployed two different spike belts to stop the fire truck.
Watch as Winnipeg police appear to throw down a spike belt in front of the truck:
The severely damaged vehicle stopped when it broke down under the Midtown Bridge, with the right front wheel was almost completely off.
The driver still didn’t give up.
“He had to be Tasered to be subdued,” Carver said.
The man who was behind the wheel is now in custody, but no charges have been laid yet, Carver said.
It’s incredible nobody was hurt in the chase, he said.
Watch the stolen fire truck drive past Eric Curt Peters’ apartment building:
“I just can’t underestimate the threat this would’ve been. I’m absolutely shocked, at not only the minimal property damage, other than obviously to the vehicle itself, but that no one was seriously injured in this.”
Nicole Ryan was driving down Vaughan when she saw a fire truck with a lot of damage to its front end going the wrong way.
“It had its lights on coming the wrong direction down the one way, so obviously I stopped and pulled over, put my hazards on and just waited,” she said.
“I got this feeling that something was not right.”
There were no firefighters in the back seat, which was strange, she said.
Police said at least 14 vehicles pursued the stolen truck, including the tactical support unit.