Edmonton man faces 5 counts attempted murder, no terrorism charges
By: Wrence Trinidad
No terrorism related charges have been laid against the man accused in Edmonton’s violent crime spree on Saturday, which injured four people including a police officer.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, is charged with five counts of attempted murder, four counts of criminal flight causing bodily harm, dangerous driving and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
The violent rampage started last Saturday evening, when a man blew through a barricade and struck Edmonton police constable Michael Chernyk with a Chevrolet Malibu, while he was on guard duty for a CFL game.
The suspect then got out of the car to attack Chernyk with a knife, repeatedly stabbing the constable before fleeing on foot.
This attack prompted a city wide man-hunt in Edmonton, with the suspect’s car make as one of the leads.
Less than four hours later, he was identified at a traffic stop driving a U-Haul moving van.
The suspect fled the scene yet again, which sparked a downtown Edmonton car chase with the police.
The violent crime spree ended with the suspect running over four pedestrians and flipping the van on its side after overturning at a busy intersection.
Police used a stun gun to arrest the man at the scene.
“As the investigation unfolds and further information is garnered, and if additional charges are supported, it will be pursued at that time,” said RCMP Superintendent Stacey Talbot
“The incidents from Saturday evening are still in the early phases of this investigation, and because of this fact, and the fact that we have currently laid charges in this case, I cannot disclose any other information as it relates to the investigation at this time.”
Sharif, a Somali refugee who resides in Edmonton, was no stranger to police before the incident.
When searching Sharif’s car, police found an ISIS flag near the front seat.
Police believe the incident was not premeditated and that the suspect acted alone.
However, Lorne Dawson of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS), an independent organization led by a consortium of universities including UBC and UW, firmly believes that acts of terror are almost never operated alone.
“Lone actors, unlike what we used to think, really aren’t alone,” Dawson said.
“They really aren’t acting without contacting or talking to other people. In fact, they usually have extensive contact with people through the internet and face to face,” said the TSAS member.
“The majority of (terrorists), in one way or another, express their intentions to engage in some sort of action. They regularly talk about their views and ideas, and about 50 per cent of them indicate to one other person that they’re actually planning to do something.”
Although it’s still unknown if the accused was part of bigger organization, police were adamant on stopping any unreasonable assumptions.
— Raif Badawi (@raif_badawi) October 1, 2017
Edmonton Police chief Roderick Knecht strongly discouraged any backlash against the Muslim and Somali communities, stating that Sharif’s actions should only be reflect upon himself.
“This is Edmonton, we’re a very tolerant community, we’re a very tolerant society, that’s what makes us unique, we’re Canadians,” Knecht said in a news release.
“We welcome everybody, and this is just an isolated situation involving a single individual. I don’t think we can make any broad statements, or assumptions, or come to any broad conclusions, based on a single incident involving one (person),” said Knecht.
Around 300 people came together in Edmonton’s Churchill Square to show their support for the victims and to voice their stand against hatred and terror.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement shortly following the incident.
“We cannot and will not let violent extremism take root in our communities,” he wrote.
“We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear.”
“Edmonton is a strong and resilient city, and I am confident that its citizens will support one another to overcome this tragic event.”
Const. Chernyk was released from the hospital with cuts to his head and face, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Of the four pedestrians hit by the truck, two were released while the others remained in hospital.