A tense few hours in the Niagara Region ended with the arrest of three people, including two teenagers, but one suspect is still on the loose.
The Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) responded to reports of a disturbance shortly before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at a rural property near Wellandport, where they had determined one youth had been taken after being kidnapped and where the suspects were trying to kidnap a second youth.
"The suspects were armed with firearms and knives," Niagara police said in a press release. "At least one shot was fired during the incident."
As the situation continued, police later told residents in the Township of Wainfleet, which is about 30 kilometres southwest of Niagara Falls, to shelter in place "out of an abundance of safety."
\u201cOfficers from the NRPS K9 Unit and Emergency Task Unit have begun a search / track for the suspects in that area.\u00a0\u00a0 Members of the public who are in the area are being asked to remain indoors (shelter in place) as a precaution.\u00a0 Please stay out of the area.\u201d— NRPS (@NRPS) 1677631899
No injuries were reported in the shooting, and police said as the suspects tried to get away, their vehicle got stuck in a ditch and they were forced to flee on foot.
"The initial responding NRPS officers arrested one of the suspects near the scene," police said.
From there, K9 and emergency task units and an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) helicopter were brought in to help in the search for the other three suspects.
Roughly an hour and a half later, at around 7 p.m., two more suspects were located and taken into custody.
"Despite an exhaustive 4.5-hour search of the area, the fourth suspect was not located," police said in a statement. "The shelter in place request for Wainfleet was subsequently lifted at approximately 12:50 a.m."
\u201cAttn. Wainfleet \n\nThe search for the final suspect has concluded. The suspect was not located. \n\nThe shelter in place has now been lifted. Thank you for your patience. \n\nDetectives will continue to investigate this incident. \n\nA media release will be issued in the morning.\u201d— NRPS (@NRPS) 1677650730
Police said they believed the incident was targeted and that there was no threat to public safety.
Of the three suspects that were taken into custody, two 16-year-old boys from Niagara Falls and Pelham, Ontario, are facing several charges, including kidnapping and the use of a firearm.
Their names are not being released as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
A 20-year-old man from St. Catharines is also facing the same charges, but police said his identity won't be released, "as it may lead to the identity of the two younger accused."
The three suspects are due in court on Wednesday.
Niagara police are asking anyone with information about this incident to contact them at 905-688-4111, option 3, extension 1009318, or anonymously via Crime Stoppers.