UPDATE: Highway re-opens after police incident near Falkland

RCMP have two suspects in custody after incident that put Westwold Elementary on lockdown

A man and woman were placed in custody following a dynamic police incident that unfolded quickly Tuesday morning between Falkland and Westwold — and shut down Highway 97 for more than six hours.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP were notified of a suspicious vehicle in the Falkland area just before 8 a.m.

“RCMP officers controlled access to the highway and strategically set up roadblocks in an attempt to safely stop the vehicle,” media relations officer Const. Jocelyn Noseworthy said. “The driver failed to stop for police and allegedly fired shots from the vehicle as it fled from our officers, posing a serious risk to public safety.”

With the use of a tire deflation device, officers were able to bring the vehicle to a stop east of Westwold, where two occupants were taken into custody without further incident. North Okanagan RCMP were assisted by the Southeast District Emergency Response Team (SED ERT), RCMP Police Dog Services, and a RCMP fixed wing aircraft from Kelowna Air Services.

The male suspect was reportedly in the Petro-Canada gas station store in Falkland at 9:24 a.m., according to an employee, who believed he came from Vernon. RCMP called the store at 9:26 a.m. and advised them to lockdown.

“This has never happened before and normally when the highway closes its an accident,” the employee said. She figured the highway would be closed all day.

Out of an abundance of caution, RCMP also ordered the lock down of Westwold Elementary School. That order has since been lifted.

RCMP are not aware of any serious injuries as a result of this dynamic police incident at this time.

At 2 p.m., DriveBC reported Highway 97 was partially re-opened through Westwold. Single-lane alternating traffic is able to pass through the town, around four hours after the road was closed. The highway was completely cleared by 4:09 p.m., according to DriveBC.

The investigation is in its initial stages and no further information is being released at this time.

Anyone who witnessed this incident or has video regarding it is asked to contact the North Okanagan RCMP at 250-546-3028.

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Traffic was backed up for a few kilometres on Hwy. 97 past Falkland toward Westwold. DriveBC reported the highway has been partially re-opened. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

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