U of A gunman apprehended
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U of A gunman apprehended
By Joel Brown and Chris Lackner
A young man, armed with a semi-automatic shot gun and equipped with 18 rounds of ammunition was taken down by police officers yesterday afternoon on the campus of the University of Alberta.
Twenty-four year-old Edmonton resident and former U of A student Farreed Wijdani, who was also found with a large knife at the time of arrest, has been charged with two counts of armed robbery and three weapons charges, said staff sgt. Dick Shantz, of the Edmonton Police department.
Shantz said Wijdani was apprehended by two plain clothes officers at 12:30 p.m., between the Science and Engineering buildings on the U of A campus.
"We have information that he came to campus to take care of some business," Shantz said.
Shantz said the suspect approached U of A in a taxi, but ordered the driver to turn around before arriving on campus.
"The suspect attempted to rob the cab driver, but the cab driver was able to grab his keys and ran," he said, adding the driver proceeded to call police. "That's when the bad guy went a short distance and hijacked a car at knife point," he said.
Police contacted campus security at 11:30 a.m. and the stolen car was quickly located near campus, Shantz said. "We deployed some plain clothes officers in the area of that car and moments later we were able to takedown and arrest the suspect."
Shantz said the suspect was placed in custody and currently awaits a psychiatric examination.
Abdul-Raheed Wijdani, the suspect's father, said students had been harassing his son over the last few months.
"This morning he was very calm," he said. "I woke up and went to the supermarket and when I came back his mother told me she had seen the handle of a hunting gun [with Farreed]. He told her it was [a] hunting gun and that is all."
Leslie Church, president of the University of Alberta student's union, said Widjani was a former engineering student who was expelled in February, but declined to address the circumstances surrounding his expulsion.
She said campus security had an existing file and photo of the suspect, which they used to help track him down yesterday.
"One of our concerns is that this type of incident could happen on any campus," she said. "We are seeing an increase in the level of stress in our students."
Doug Owram, vice-president of academics at U of A, said he praised the efficiency and co-ordination involved in the suspect's arrest. "A campus-wide alert was put out. Thirty minutes after the call from the Edmonton Police, the stolen vehicle was spotted by parking services."
"There is no way to prevent these events from occurring," he added. "When these sort of things happen, it's frightening."