Gun shots broke the silence in West Kelowna Tuesday afternoon around 1:30. What followed could only be described as a nightmare for motorists and police as suspects reportedly fired at officers and a by-stander as they sped down Westside Road. The fleeing suspects also carjacked two vehicles and they tried to get a third.
Mark Langmead was sitting in his Subaru with his 12-year-old son, waiting for wild sheep to finishing crossing Westside Road, when the unthinkable happened.
"They cut us off and one of the guys jumps out of the car and started screaming and he had a handgun, and started running towards the car trying to smash in my window and the woman dropped out of the car and started screaming and the next thing I know the back window (of the suspect vehicle) exploded in glass and they jumped back in and tore off . . . they were shooting at us."
It all started when police attempted to stop, what they called, a 'suspicious' vehicle in West Kelowna.
"Members of the West Kelowna RCMP observed a suspicious green Dodge minivan and were attempting to stop it," Supt. Bill McKinnon told a hastily called news conference late Tuesday afternoon.
"While following the vehicle in an attempt to pull it over, the officer notified dispatch that he was shot at and requested back up. The suspects fled northbound in the van on Westside Road."
At least a dozen or more RCMP cruisers joined in the high speed chase along Westside Road.
McKinnon says members of the Kelowna, West Kelowna and Vernon detachments were involved in the pursuit.
They were eventually arrested after fleeing from a black truck on Highway 97 near the Swan Lake exit just north of Vernon.
Two men are now in jail in Vernon while the third suspect, a female, is in Vernon Jubilee Hospital with undetermined injuries.
McKinnon was unable to provide much in the way of investigative details.
"Please be advised that this event occurred just hours ago and therefore limited details are available and all information will need to be confirmed through a thorough investigation," stated McKinnon.
He did confirm suspects did fire at police during the chase along Westside Road and that RCMP officers did return fire, although he was unaware as to how many shots were fired.
No mounties were injured as a result of the incident.
McKinnon says two separate investigations will be conducted.
Investigators from Southeast District Major Crimes will investigate the overall incident while a second investigation will be conducted by the New Westminster Police Department.
"That's part of our new policies and procedures any time that anyone is hurt by the RCMP. In this case a female is in custody that suffered injuries as a result of the investigation."
He was not able to state exactly what type of injury the woman suffered.
McKinnon did term the incident scary.
"I was down in the operation officers room listening to what transpired on the radio and, any time our members are being shot at, it's pretty scary stuff," says McKinnon.
"I was certainly hoping throughout that no one would get hurt."
One conversation heard on the police radio underscored the severity of the situation.
Officer 1: "He's shooting at me, he's shooting at me. He's shooting at me with a rifle."
Officer 2: "We're coming buddy, we're coming as fast as we can."
Officer 1: "The guy has rear ended me. He's trying to push me off the road. I can't turn off because he's going to shoot at me more. He's coming at me and he's rear ending me."