KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A British Columbia man is facing several charges including kidnapping and use of a firearm after a semi-tractor trailer and its driver were allegedly commandeered by an armed assailant earlier this week.
RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said the incident began late Monday afternoon when a Mountie found a man slumped over in his running van near Avola, B.C. As the officer was putting the suspect into a police car he overpowered him and drove off in his original vehicle.
In what Moskaluk described as a “very dynamic situation” the driver allegedly forced a pick-up truck to pull over but was unsuccessful in taking the vehicle, then took off again when police arrived.
Moskaluk said the man ended up stopping at a roadside turnout north of Kamloops where semi-tractor trailers were parked.
He approached one of the vehicles, smashed out a window and attempted unsuccessfully to convince the trucker to drive him away, Moskaluk said.
The man then jumped into a second truck loaded with wood and is alleged by police to have threatened the driver and brandished a gun.
“Now the truck driver proceeded with the suspect southbound with police officers responding in the vicinity with several unmarked vehicles,” said Moskaluk.
“Essentially they joined into a convoy, unbeknownst to the suspect and were following the truck at a safe distance.”
The driver of the truck was able to receive instructions from police by phone and convinced the suspect he was speaking to his dispatcher in order avoid suspicion.
The driver was able to jump out of the semi when he pulled into a weigh scale station west of Kamloops and sought shelter with officers on scene.
Moskaluk says the emergency response team disabled the truck and attempted to force the suspect out of the vehicle using gas canisters.
“He did not exit the vehicle and attempted to drive it further. He only succeeded in driving it a few hundred metres before it slid off the roadway and overturned,” said Moskaluk.
“The suspect exited the vehicle only to be met by the awaiting police service dog team, who effected the arrest without further incident.”
The suspect suffered minor dog bite injuries and was arrested.
David Lee Chappell, 33, of the Lower Mainland faces a number of charges including kidnapping and use of a firearm in the commission of an offence.
Moskaluk said the case could have ended up far worse.
“No individuals were injured throughout the course of the incident and no shots were fired by the suspect,” he said.
“Considering that this started off with an officer being overpowered by an individual we’re thankful.”
Moskaluk said the investigation is continuing and further charges could still be laid.
— By Bill Graveland in Calgary, follow @BillGraveland on Twitter.