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Robbery suspects held after sedan rams police cruiser in Coombs

Feb 02 2012
Police arrest a man and a woman after they crashed their car along the Alberni Highway near Coombs midday Wednesday. 

Police arrest a man and a woman after they crashed their car along the Alberni Highway near Coombs midday Wednesday.

Photograph by: Lori Gillis photo, .

A suspect in an art theft threatened to crash head-on into a police car then rammed it twice in a dramatic confrontation at Coombs on Wednesday.

Two other vehicles were then struck in a chain-reaction collision.

Officers arrested a man and a woman at gunpoint.

In the aftermath, a female Oceanside RCMP officer and the male driver of a pickup were taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and released. The driver of the car used in the ramming, a white Crown Victoria, was treated at the scene by paramedics.

The Alberni highway through Coombs was closed for several hours while investigators documented the scene.

Oceanside officers on patrol were alerted to the theft of artwork from a Qualicum Beach business and a description of the suspects' sedan was provided, said RCMP Sgt. Darrell Robertson. A vehicle matching the description passed a female Mountie in Coombs in the oncoming lane, so the officer did a U-turn to fall in behind and get its licence number, said Robertson.

"Then that vehicle did a U-turn and they were facing each other again," he said. "That vehicle accelerated and moved toward the eastbound lane, in a head-on direction toward the police vehicle."

The Mountie steered toward a ditch and almost came to a complete stop as the oncoming vehicle sped toward it.

"At the last moment, the driver of the other vehicle swerved away from the police car," said Robertson.

The Mountie drove back onto the road and saw in her rearview mirror that the white sedan had done another U-turn and was accelerating toward the police car. "It rammed the police car twice," said Robertson.

The ramming caused the police car to strike another vehicle in front of it. A fourth vehicle, a pickup truck, was struck as well.

The suspect vehicle ended up in the westbound ditch. The officer got out of her vehicle and drew her gun, ordering the two occupants to get out and lie on the ground.

Lori Gillis of Whiskey Creek was driving through Coombs at 11:05 a.m. when she saw someone lying in the ditch and three RCMP officers standing with guns drawn.

"The person in the ditch had some kind of shield in front of them," said Gillis.

The item is believed to be the stolen artwork.

Robertson commended the professionalism of the officer, whose name was not released.

The suspects appeared to be using their vehicle as a weapon, Robertson said.

A 40-year-old man and 47-year-old woman were arrested. He faces a charge of dangerous driving while she will be charged with possession of stolen property, said Robertson.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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