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Hours-long closure of Coquihalla Hwy. involved stolen truck, reports of firearm: RCMP


The police incident that closed the Coquihalla Highway for several hours Wednesday does not appear to be connected to any other "recent high-profile events" in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, according to police.

Authorities shared more information on the cause of the closure Thursday, revealing that the incident began when officers attempted to pull over a stolen Dodge Ram pickup truck near the Coquihalla Summit around 12:15 p.m.

Mounties said the driver tried escaping down a side road but that the vehicle became stuck. Three suspects then ran away on foot, and authorities said witnesses reported seeing one of them carrying a firearm.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the highway was closed for several hours while we searched the area for these suspects," Sgt. Josh Roda of Merritt RCMP said in a news release. "Without knowing their identities or their intentions, and reports indicating they were armed, we felt it was best to keep all members of the public from the scene."

Officers from the Merritt RCMP and a local Emergency Response Team responded to the incident, and evacuated a nearby construction site for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, where more than a dozen construction workers were on the job.

Police managed to arrest a woman shortly after launching the search, and found two men hours later. The suspects were all taken into custody without incident, authorities said.

The RCMP has not confirmed whether officers found any firearms during the search.

Little information has been shared about the suspects, but Roda said there is "no indication" they are related to any of the headline-making police incidents reported in recent days – including those that remain under investigation in Merritt.

"We are aware of the online speculation on the identities of these suspects," he said.

Another major traffic artery was closed earlier this week following an armed robbery at a car dealership in Port Coquitlam. Authorities said the suspects engaged in a shootout with police, and were chased until they crashed near the King Edwards Overpass on Highway 1.

Police are also investigating a double-fatal shooting discovered in Port Coquitlam on Wednesday evening, and multiple shootings and a kidnapping that occurred over a number of days in Merritt.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday Top Stories

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