Monday, March 21, 2011

Escaped killer captured after Alta. standoff

Escaped killer captured after Alta. standoff

William Bicknell escaped from an escort on March 10 while on a day pass from Drumheller Institution to visit a relative. RCMP

An escaped killer on the loose in Alberta for more than a week has been captured after a four-hour standoff.

The RCMP said William Bicknell was arrested Saturday night near Sexsmith, Alta., after a 25-kilometre car chase during which he allegedly shot at police officers after driving his car into a ditch, RCMP said in a written statement on Sunday.

Bicknell, 42, had been on the run since March 10 when he overpowered an unarmed guard while being escorted to Edmonton on a day pass from Drumheller Institution. Bicknell allegedly pulled a knife on the guard and took control of the vehicle they were in.

On Saturday afternoon, Spirit River RCMP officers received information that Bicknell was hiding out at a rural home north of Sexsmith.

Police allege Bicknell had entered an elderly woman's residence at 7:30 a.m. MT on Saturday and took her hostage. She contacted police and family members at around 4:00 p.m., shortly after she escaped.

Members of the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment responded to the call. As officers arrived at the house, Bicknell took off in the Chevy Impala that he had allegedly stolen from a man he took hostage for a day a week earlier.

Township Road 734 & Range Road 55

Officers gave chase until Bicknell drove his car off the road about three kilometres east of Sexsmith at the intersection of Township Road 734 and Range Road 55.

Bicknell then began shooting at the officers, police alleged. There was an exchange of gunfire, during which a police car was disabled.

Bicknell surrendered to police at 8:15 p.m. and was taken to the closest hospital, where he received immediate treatment for his injuries. He was then flown to an Edmonton hospital for further treatment.

"How, and what injuries he sustained is currently under investigation," the RCMP said in their statement.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the circumstances of the gunfire exchange.

A five-year member of the Grande Prairie RCMP was slightly injured during the gunfight and was treated and released from hospital.

Prisoner's status questioned

Bicknell was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder for killing Angela Steer in her home in Maple Ridge, B.C., on April 11, 2001.

The 6'6," 400-pound Bicknell never accepted responsibility for killing Steer, maintaining he was defending himself from the 5’3,” 120-pound woman. But he was eligible to take day trips from prison without an escort beginning in July, Steer's parents said.

Bicknell's sister, Sandra Lynn Myshak, 47, of Edmonton, was arrested last Friday. She faces seven criminal charges that include assisting a person escaping custody and aiding in a kidnapping with a firearm.

Charges are pending against Bicknell for the alleged hostage taking in Sexsmith. Bicknell is also facing charges in another hostage taking on Monday in Vegreville, about 90 kilometres from Edmonton, in which an elderly man was held at gunpoint for about 10 hours before being released unharmed.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has questioned why Bicknell was designated a minimum security inmate. In minimum security cases, escorts are never armed and inmates are never in restraints, according to the union.