|EDMONTON - The latest in a series of high-powered stakeouts finally bore fruit Friday with the arrest of an Alberta man charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a Northwest Territories RCMP officer.|
RCMP confirmed that Emrah Bulatci, 23, was arrested at a home in Edmonton late in the afternoon. Tactical squads had surrounded a home all day and even evacuated a local elementary school before they fired concussion devices called flash-bangs.
Bulatci and two other people emerged and were immediately taken into custody.
With heavily armed officers training their weapons on him, a shirtless Bulatci was handcuffed and taken to an ambulance that was standing by.
That ambulance, surrounded by an escort of 12 police vehicles, then drove to a local hospital.
Bulatci is accused of murdering Const. Christopher Worden, who was gunned down early last Saturday morning while answering a trouble call near a suspected drug house in Hay River, about 400 kilometres south of Yellowknife.
News of his arrest came as relief to residents of Hay River.
"I'm glad it's over before the funeral on Monday and the other services that are going to take place," said Mayor John Pollard.
"At least we know now that he's in jail."
Bulatci is also facing several drug-related charges in Edmonton but had been free on bail.
The operation that resulted in Bulatci's arrest was just the latest in a series of dramatic stakeouts.
On Thursday police surrounded a home in Edmonton for about nine hours, but the house turned out to be empty. However, a number of people in the neighbourhood were taken in for questioning.
There have also been searches of homes and motels earlier this week in High Level, a northern Alberta community where the suspect has also lived.
At a news conference Friday at RCMP's K-Division headquarters in Edmonton, Chief Supt. Fred Kamins commended the efforts of the officers.
"This arrest concludes a very intense search that has either involved or impacted law enforcement agencies across Canada," he said.
"Police resources from the Northwest Territories and Alberta, including the Edmonton police service as well as the Regina police service, have been most directly engaged.
"I'd like to comment on their dedication, diligence and professionalism, which I can only describe as outstanding."
Bulatci most recently lived in Edmonton with his girlfriend and their three-month-old baby girl.
The girlfriend's mother said Friday that her family's thoughts are with Worden's loved ones.
"Our hearts, thoughts and condolences do go out to Const. Worden's family," said the mother, who declined to give her name.
"We hope they're able to find their peace."
She also defended Bulatci.
"The man that we've come to know and love is not capable of what he's being accused of. The man that I know, it's not possible."
RCMP have declined to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding Worden's death, including queries about why it took police so long to find the officer after he was shot, what they know about the fatal attack, the cause of death, and what type of firearm was used.
Worden, a married father of one daughter, will be given a regimental funeral in Ottawa on Monday.
Many of the 3,800 residents of Hay River have been busy making 3,000 blue lapel ribbons to be worn in Worden's memory.
"There's quite a bit of anger in the community right now," said Pollard. "I'm sure some of that will go away with the fact that he's been captured, but it's still a fact that in our community a young police officer lost his life."
It's unfortunate he surrendered..
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