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Man charged with attempted murder after shots fired at Vanderhoof police, sparking lockdown

Warren Brown is asking any members of the public with video of a shooting to step forward
Vanderhoof RCMP detachment seen on Nov. 25, 2021, after a man was seen with a long gun targeting the building. (Aman Parhar/Vanderhoof Omineca Express)

A man has been charged with attempted murder in connection with a shooting targeting the Vanderhoof RCMP on Thursday (Nov. 25), sparking a city-wide lockdown.

Paul Nicholas Russel is set to appear in Williams Lake courtroom Friday afternoon for a bail hearing.

On Thursday mid-day, a man fired multiple shots at the detachment and police vehicles there, from a white pick-up truck before fleeing the scene. He was arrested after a brief vehicle chase.

Chief superintendent of the BC RCMP’s North District, Warren Brown, said bullets smashed windows and sent staff scrambling for cover.

“Yesterday was nothing less than the most horrendous occurrence that can happen for police officers, our support staff, and our community,” he said in an RCMP news release.

“An incident like this is really something that happens rarely and regardless of how well we are trained, with the serious level of threat and fluid mayhem, it is remarkable to believe no one was hurt and the suspect was arrested safely. Really the best possible outcome.”

WATCH: Suspect arrested in Vanderhoof after active shooter sparks city-wide lockdown

Police believe it was a targeted attack aimed at the RCMP, and there is no threat to the community. The sole suspect remains in custody.

Brown said the community has been giving “overwhelming” support. He met with Mayor Gerry Thiessen and CAO Gerald Pinchbeck after the shooting.

“As this incident was unfolding, citizens of Vanderhoof provided real time up to date witness accounts through 911. This included suspect and vehicle descriptions, locations and other observations that were integral pieces of information that led to the capture of the suspect,” he said.

It was the first time police in B.C. have used their emergency broadcast capabilities. Phones up to 150 km away were given an emergency alert to let them know an active shooter was on the loose in Vanderhoof.

“This is new to us all and the support and cooperation from the community at large was overwhelming,” Brown said.

“I can assure the communities that the Vanderhoof RCMP polices is in safe hands. Other nearby detachments including Fraser Lake, Fort St James, Prince George, BC Highway Patrol, and other North District support sections will be working in Vanderhoof to provide a service of excellence until our resilient staff at the detachment can get back on their feet.”

The Vanderhoof RCMP detachment will remain closed as the RCMP North District General Investigation Section finish their investigation. No disruption to service calls is expected.

“Investigators are aware that there are numerous videos of the incident and are asking anyone with dash cam or cell phone video of the shooting, or the events following it, to share it with police,” the release notes.

Anyone with video or information to share is asked to contact the Vanderhoof RCMP by calling 250-567-2222.

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