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Attempted murder charges dropped against Fort St. John man in Merritt shootout

6 counts of using a prohibited weapon and 2 charges of theft over $5,000 remain
According to police, upon the attempt at a traffic stop in Merritt on June 6, 2021, the driver of the vehicle immediately fled the scene, prompting the responding officer to notify dispatch. (Kamloops This Week)

By Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative ALASKA HIGHWAY NEWS

Attempted murder charges were dropped last week for a Fort St. John man involved in a shootout with RCMP in Merritt last summer.

Gerald Cooper was facing five counts of attempted murder from June 2021, which have since been stayed, confirms the Kamloops court registry.

However, six counts of using a prohibited weapon and two charges of theft over $5,000 related to the incident remain.

Cooper, 46, remains in custody and will appear in Merritt provincial court on March 15 to address the remaining charges.

After his arrest, RCMP said they were attempting to stop a vehicle related to an ongoing investigation on June 6, 2021, with a man fleeing in a pickup truck.

According to a Dec. 13, 2021 media release from the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC, police deployed a spike belt, stopping the truck on Highway 8 near Snake Road and Highway 97C, roughly five kilometres northwest of Merritt.

Shots were fired both by officers and the suspect. A man and an 11-year-old child were in the truck and taken to hospital with serious injuries, with the man sustaining a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The IIO noted the child did not sustain a gunshot injury, but gives no indication on what their injury might have been. A public report is expected from the IIO, but will not be released until court proceedings conclude.

RELATED: Fort St. John man charged with attempted murder following shootout with Merritt RCMP