BERWICK, N.S. - Police say a 26-year-old man received non-life-threatening injuries after a firearm was discharged as a result of an incident that unfolded following a traffic stop in Berwick early Tuesday.
The stop occurred at the on-ramp for Highway 101’s Exit 15 at 4:05 a.m. Tuesday, RCMP said in a news release.
A Kings District RCMP officer pulled the westbound vehicle over for motor vehicle infractions.
“There was an interaction between the driver and the police officer, involving the discharge of a firearm. The driver then fled into a nearby wooded area,” the RCMP statement reads.
“The police officer was not hurt and immediately called for backup.”
A 20-year-old man riding in the vehicle remained in his seat and “was immediately arrested without incident and held in custody,” police say.
The Nova Scotia RCMP Emergency Response Team, police dog services and air services were dispatched to assist at the scene and Highway 101 was closed between exits 14 and 16 as a precaution.
The driver of the vehicle was apprehended and, according to the RCMP release, “during the arrest, police noted the suspect had a non-life-threatening injury.”
RCMP say the suspect, who was treated at hospital and released, will be held in custody as he awaits an appearance in Kentville provincial court.
The RCMP’s Southwest Nova Major Crimes Unit and forensic services division was called in to assist with the investigation.
Residents nearby reported the sound of gunfire and say they saw RCMP on scene with assault rifles.
Tim Thomson and Kristy Paradis live on Parker Condon Road and noticed the unusually heavy police presence in the area.
Paradis said she was outside at about 6 a.m. after hearing Somerset and District Elementary School, where one of her children is a student, was closed for the day.
“The first thing I noticed was I could see the lights on the highway flashing,” she said.
As she walked her other child to the bus stop for another school, she said she noticed “cops were up and down, up and down” her road.
“This is normally such a quiet road, but there’s been so much traffic today – it’s crazy,” she said.
Thomson was outside later, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and saw “big, black trucks” drive up and down the road several times.
“I assume it was SWAT or something I’d seen, and an ambulance was escorted down through here as well,” he said.
“After the two black trucks kept going back and forth, our road was blocked off – you could drive out, but you couldn’t come back in.”
Thomson said he also saw a helicopter circling and land near the fire station in Berwick.
Most of Parker Condon Road remained blocked off as of 10:15 a.m., with two RCMP forensic identification trucks and several cruisers nearby.
A police car and ambulance were spotted outside Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville earlier in the morning, but police wouldn’t confirm reports that a man was brought in with gunshot wounds.
Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said no members of the RCMP were injured during the standoff and arrest.
Kristen Loyst of the Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education said Somerset school was closed after a call from the RCMP.
“RCMP called us and asked us to close the school due to what they called a ‘major incident in the area,’” she said.
While the suspect was arrested before classes started for the day, she said the school — about two kilometres north of the 101 — would remain closed.
“If a school is announced as closed, it's generally not possible to get that back in motion,” she said. “There are too many moving parts.”
The RCMP spokesman said the highway will be closed for the day for investigation.
Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) was called in to investigate the matter shortly before 7 a.m., SiRT director Felix Cacchione said.
“It involves a serious incident, the extent of that incident I can’t speak to at this point,” he said and later confirmed that the man had been treated at hospital and was in police custody.
A statement will be issued by SiRT once the investigation is complete, Cacchione said.
He said he was unaware of the nature of the man's injury or how it occurred.
- with files from Ashley Thompson