Two suspects in high speed Okanagan chase identified

Two men arrested following Tuesday's police chase will appear in court Thursday.

Police officers examine an unmarked RCMP vehicle that was struck with bullets Tuesday after Mounties attempted to make a routine stop of a green Dodge Caravan. Three suspects were later taken into custody at Swan Lake

Police officers examine an unmarked RCMP vehicle that was struck with bullets Tuesday after Mounties attempted to make a routine stop of a green Dodge Caravan. Three suspects were later taken into custody at Swan Lake

 

A 19 year old woman remains in hospital as she recovers from a gunshot wound, while her two cohorts are readying themselves for a day in court, following a police chase that scattered bullets from West Kelowna to Vernon.

Although the injured woman has yet to be named, Cpl. Dan Moskaluk announced late Wednesday evening that it was Shawn Adam Wysynski, 32, and Michael Edward Ellis, 39, they apprehended Tuesday, and they will both appear before a Kelowna judge 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Charges related to allegations from Tuesday’s high profile chase have yet to be levied, but Wysynski will appear in court to deal with a warrant issued in February for failing to comply with a probation order stemming from a Kelowna file.

Ellis has been wanted since June, for offences under the CDSA for two charges of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose trafficking, stemming from a Columbia Valley area investigation.

Further charges could be laid in the days ahead, but Okanagan Mounties are still investigating the chase that started just after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on Boucherie Road, and carried on for nearly 70 km, to Swan Lake in Vernon.

“Much detail will be provided as evidence as this matter progresses,” said Moskaluk.  “To ensure the integrity of our findings … we’re limited to what we can disclose.”

What he did confirm was that the drama fraught drive started when police attempted to stop the “suspicious” green Dodge Caravan, around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

They allegedly fired shots at the West Kelowna officer RCMP, then the suspects fled on Westside Road.

As the chase continued, unconfirmed reports indicate the stakes got higher, and police officers found themselves in the path of more bullets.

It’s believed Cpl.  Richard Gingras from the North Okanagan detachment was most seriously at risk.

Once it was clear the van was headed to Vernon, he headed south down Westside Road to cut them off. Instead he found himself being chased.

The suspects allegedly shot a number of rounds at Gingras’s cruiser from what was assessed to be a “high-powered rifle.” Although some bullets made contact, they eventually stopped shooting and settled for trying to run him off the road.

He maintained his course, and escaped unscathed, although the alleged suspects continued on in a way that’s yet to be made clear.

It’s believed their tires were shot out at one point, and they had to resort to driving on rims. They also ran over two spike belts.

Some reports have alleged they carried on by car-jacking their way through the route to Vernon, although those are also unconfirmed.

Const. Kris Clark did confirm they were able to switch vehicles twice, noting that the Caravan was exchanged first for a  red pickup truck then a black pick up truck—he just couldn’t say how the transitions were made.

Eventually, however, their driving adventure came to an end and they tried to flee on-foot. Once apprehended, two men were brought to Kelowna lock-up, while the woman went to hospital to deal with injuries that may have been incurred during the chase.

As all this was happening, Westside Road and the Bennett Bridge were shut down for the protection of the public, although there were no shortage of sightings.

One eyewitness said there was a large RCMP presence at the intersection of Highway 97 and Westside Road.

“They were not allowing any traffic onto Westside Road, and as the suspect vehicle was getting closer, you could hear all the sirens,” said the witness, still trembling from the event. “Police then stopped traffic and told all of us to get down in our vehicles.

“The suspect vehicle raced through there and I know I heard shots fired, or maybe it was tires being blown out, but then they were racing toward Vernon.”

Police officers who weren’t in the throes of the chase were also at the edge of their seats, listening to the details of a chase that’s unusual fare for this city.

“I was down in the operation officers room listening to what transpired on the radio and … any time our members are being shot at, it’s pretty scary stuff,” said Supt. Bill McKinnon.

“I was certainly hoping throughout that no one would get hurt.”

As is, the only injured party was the unnamed woman who was in the suspect vehicle. While McKinnon said police did exchange fire with the trio, he couldn’t speak to how the woman was hurt.

That’s what the New Westminster police were called in to do.

“That’s part of our new policies and procedures any time that anyone is hurt by the RCMP,” he said.   The New West Police   continue to carry out a use of force investigation after the RCMP exchanged gun fire with suspects in Kelowna.  The NWPD can confirm that a female suspect involved in the incident sustained a non-life threatening gunshot wound and is currently recovering in hospital after surgery.

No injuries on the RCMP side of the investigation which involved at least 10 cruisers from Kelowna, North Okanagan and West Kelowna detachments have been reported as of yet. Five officers closest to the action, however, will be removed from duty until a fitness for duty assessment is completed

The rest is being taken over by the Southeast District Major Crimes unit.