5. Manhunt for Ighani

Castanet Penticton is counting down the five biggest stories of 2017. They are being determined by a combination of web-traffic, public interest and overall impact on the South Okanagan.

5) Oliver shooting and manhunt for Afshin Ighani

Heavily armed RCMP officers converged on a quiet Oliver neighbourhood on Apr. 19 to investigate a shooting, engaging in what they thought was a standoff with an armed man.

Police locked down the neighbourhood for the night, until they determined the following morning their suspect wasn’t actually inside the motorhome they surrounded.

The shooting victim, Thomas Szajko, was treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Two days later, RCMP announced a manhunt for Afshin Ighani — a dangerous criminal that had been ordered deported from Canada on two occasions.

In the midst of the search for Ighani, on Apr. 22, Princeton RCMP learned a woman had been kidnapped by him.

A man and woman were with the fugitive in a car in a restaurant parking lot when Ighani ordered the man out of the car and drove away with the woman still inside. The man proceeded to steal a motorcycle from the restaurant parking lot, chasing Ighani and his girlfriend.

A police helicopter eventually located the stolen vehicle with the help of a cell phone ping in Manning Park, heading back towards Princeton.

It all came to a head in a Princeton trailer park, where police blocked in Ighani and the woman. At one point, an officer took at shot at the vehicle, but missed.

Ighani was eventually arrested with the help of a K9 unit in a wooded area nearby. He remains in custody, but will not stand trial for attempted murder as originally charged.

The victim of the original shooting ended up passing away at his home due to a drug overdose in December.

Szajko was the recipient of a medal of bravery from the Governor General in 1995 for awakening five residents of a house that was on fire, and re-entering the house after hearing another person crying for help.

Crown prosecutor John Swanson said he was relying on Szajko's testimony, and was forced to drop the case. Ighani is still charged in the Princeton incident.

He has also got into more trouble behind bars, facing new charges for allegedly stabbing two other high-profile inmates.

Court records show he is charged with attacking David McHale and Peter Beckett in September. McHale is behind bars after pleading guilty to sex crimes involving minors. Beckett was convicted by a Kelowna jury in the murder of his wife.

McHale is now suing the prison for failing to protect him.

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