Pubdate: Sat, 08 Oct 2005
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


An OPP drug officer confirmed yesterday the massive armed manhunt -- 
that began Wednesday with a high speed chase, gunshots and three
injured officers -- was related to a large marijuana bust.

Det. Sgt. Dean Steinke of the Kawartha Combined Forces Drug Unit told
The Examiner his team members were harvesting marijuana from deep in
the bush near Gooderham.

"They're up there harvesting as we speak," he said.

The ground and air search started Wednesday night following a
high-speed car chase that resulted in smashed police cars and three
injured officers on McColls Road, east of Gooderham.

OPP spokesman Const. Mark McMaster said the chase started when police
tried to pull over a pickup truck and the driver refused to stop.

McMaster said yesterday he "didn't know" if police found the fugitive.

The Examiner reported yesterday it started after police surprised some
men in a field while investigating a marijuana growing operation off
Highway 507 near the Gooderham dump.

The fugitive escaped and ditched his truck several kilometres away on
a wooded trail off Milburn Road.

Police closed McColls Road Thursday and officers blocked access to the
spot where they found the pickup.

McColls Road, a dead end, was open yesterday.

But an officer still stood guard there to keep an eye on people
passing by.

Also yesterday, a woman who witnessed Wednesday's car chase said she
saw three police vehicles try to stop the fugitive by repeatedly
ramming his truck before one officer fired several shots at him as he
sped away.

"This is the part that I don't like," said the witness, who didn't
want her name used. "The man in the smaller car leapt out and fired.
Quite a few shots. My son said he thought he heard nine. But I
couldn't be sure."

McMaster wouldn't confirm to the public if guns were involved.

But the men looking for the fugitive were armed with handguns and
assault rifles.

Police set up a large command post Thursday in Bill Powell's yard, a
few hundred feet from where they found the abandoned pickup.

A helicopter, a trailer, trucks, ATVs and dozens of people, including
tactical response officers with camouflage clothing and face paint,
were all there late into the night.

But the large command centre had disappeared from Powell's

"They pulled out of here about midnight and that was the end of it,"
Powell said. "They left as quick as they came and never left a scrap
on the ground. Whether they've got who they are after I'm not sure.
They were very evasive about saying anything. They went out of their
way to not let anybody know anything."

Steinke wouldn't tell the public any more about the investigation,
except that it's not a typical drug bust.

"This investigation is a little more complex," he said.

The woman who saw the gunplay said an officer told her police widened
their search after they saw marijuana fields from the helicopter they
hadn't known about while looking for the fugitive.

She said there was also more to the car chase than police reported to
the public.

McMaster would only say the fugitive rammed two police cars, resulting
in minor injuries to three officers.

The witness said it was far more dramatic.

"The white truck with the suspect was first," she said. "Behind him
was a cruiser, behind that was a black half ton unmarked, behind that
was a smaller black unmarked car. The cruiser was trying to stop him,
so they rammed him at the back, which knocked him slightly to the side."

That didn't stop the truck, she said, so the driver of the larger
black half ton took a try.

"The half ton gave him a pretty good whack."

She said that hit spun the pickup around so it was facing back toward
the way it had just come.

"Then he just stepped on the gas," she said. "The smaller car banged
into him hoping to stop him. He was much smaller and just bounced off."

That was when one officer jumped out of the car and started shooting,
she said.
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