Two people are reportedly in custody following a high-speed chase in Brandon’s north end on Thursday afternoon that ended with a crash near the First Street bridge and a manhunt downtown.
Witnesses described how a black Audi SUV had sped along a residential street followed by police early Thursday afternoon.
Two men said they saw the SUV zip by along the avenue, followed by two or three police cars, while other police vehicles converged on the area from an adjoining street.
"Everything happened so fast," said one of the men who asked not to be identified. "They went flying by and there was a bunch of dust up in the construction zone there."
That dust seems to refer to the crash at the foot of the new First Street bridge, where the second of two twin bridges are under construction.
The chase seems to have begun shortly before 12:30 p.m.
Employees at the Co-op gas bar on the 300 block of 18th Street North confirmed an account that the chase began there.
One employee there said that it appeared that a single police unit had pulled over a black Audi SUV in the parking lot.
Employees then saw the SUV take off through the lot with a police car behind. Other police cars quickly followed, within 20 to 30 seconds.
Co-op employee Carl Fawcett estimated six to eight police cars were engaged in the pursuit.
"He was doing at least 60 km/h, just going through here," fellow Co-op employee Braden Woods said, referring to the SUV going through the parking lot, adding there was a police "ghost car" right behind it.
Woods said he saw a man and woman in the SUV as it passed by.
The quick response by other officers suggests that the stop was part of a larger operation already underway at the time, but the Brandon Police Service couldn’t immediately confirm that.
The police cars in the pursuit were described as a mix of marked and unmarked, their lights and sirens going.
A construction worker from the First Street bridge said that tactical response members arrived at the crash scene right behind the first officers. That report bolsters the theory that there was a larger operation already underway, although that’s not conclusive.
Other witnesses said the SUV was pursued east down Assiniboine Avenue at a speed they estimated to be more than 100 km/h. One Assiniboine resident said he was alerted to the approaching chase by a neighbour, and he could hear the whine of the SUV’s engine.
By the time he got outside the SUV had passed, and police were just going by.
"As soon as I came out the door, zoom, zoom, a bunch of cops just came flying, like it dusted the whole area."
The construction worker from the bridge said that, at the end of the avenue by the structure, the SUV hit a concrete barrier where it came to a stop.
He said another damaged car, apparently a police vehicle, was at that scene. It’s not clear how it was damaged, although the witness believed it may have run over some metal work.
He said police, guns and at least one Taser drawn, arrested a female who had been in the SUV at the crash scene. A man from the SUV ran south, passed between moving rail cars and evaded police.
A Canadian Pacific Railway flagger stopped the train for police, who then followed the fleeing man, the worker said.
Officers, some with rifles and tactical gear, spread throughout the downtown area as they looked for the suspect. Cruisers squared off a section from First Street to Eighth Street between Pacific Avenue and Princess Avenue.
St. Augustine School and École New Era school were both placed in lockdown, and several businesses were told to lock their doors while police were on scene.
By about 1:30 p.m., with guns drawn and with the help of the K-9 unit, police had narrowed their search to a back lane in the 00 block between Second and Third streets when the dogs started to bark.
Police yelled: "Put your hands up!" toward a space between two garages on the corner of Rosser Avenue and Third Street from where they then dragged and handcuffed a suspect.
It’s not known if the man was armed.
A BPS officer was assembling details for media Thursday afternoon, but The Brandon Sun didn’t receive an update by press time. No release was issued by the BPS.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from Erin DeBooy