The RCMP Emergency Response Team, K-9 team and RCMP helicopter converged on Port Alberni Friday afternoon (July 22) after a man who stole a BC Ambulance Service support vehicle on the west coast was spotted in the central Island city.
The support vehicle—not an ambulance—was stolen in Ucluelet around 1:45 p.m., Port Alberni RCMP Const. Richard Johns said. The ERT was called in after Ucluelet RCMP made contact with the man and determined that he was potentially armed with a crossbow and a shotgun. The RCMP helicopter was also brought in, Johns said.
Police received a report from a homeowner near Airport Road, west of Port Alberni, that the man and BCAS vehicle were on his property; all available units from Port Alberni RCMP joined the pursuit. “Members were able to engage the vehicle in Port Alberni as well as Ucluelet,” Johns said. An RCMP member spotted the stolen vehicle on Coleman Road and attempted to stop it, but the man “took off at a high rate of speed.” Because RCMP were able to track the vehicle’s GPS they did not give chase.
At 4 p.m. the vehicle was recovered and officers found the man nearby. “He was arrested without issue,” Johns said.
The man was a suspect in a case of a stolen vehicle and uttering threats in View Royal and multiple break and enters in Sooke between July 19 and 20.
The large police presence prompted many people to speculate whether it had to do with missing Port Alberni woman Amber Manthorne, but family spokesperson Kristie St. Claire posted Friday night on the Finding Amber Manthorne Facebook page that she had been assured by police that it had nothing to do with Manthorne’s disappearance.
Ucluelet was full of tourists from July 22-24 for the annual Ukee Days celebration at the fairgrounds.
“We received a lot of reports from the public,” Johns said. “People had a lot of concern for a BCAS vehicle that was being operated in a manner that was odd,” and that the person behind the wheel did not look like a paramedic, he said.
“We appreciated the reports from the public, as well as the response from the Emergency Response Team, RCMP Dog Services and air aid.”
One man is in custody and was awaiting a bail hearing at the beginning of the week, he added.