It was like something out of a movie: police officers jumping out of a helicopter in the dark and taking down a suspect to save a teeenaged girl allegedly being held in a remote cabin.
The dramatic arrest occurred in northern Saskatchewan in April, RCMP said Tuesday.
Cpl. Rob King, communications officer for Saskatchewan RCMP, said Mounties turned to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Saskatchewan Emergency Response Team to help get their man.
“The lake ice was too weak to go over by snowmobile and too full of ice to take a boat,” King said of safely reaching the location about 10 km across the lake from the northern village of Île-à-la-Crosse.
It was April 23 when police received a complaint of an underaged girl allegedly being held against her will for four days.
King said the CAF Joint Task Force in Cold Lake, Alta., supplied two CH-146 Griffon helicopters for the police operation.
They went in on the early morning of April 24.
“Police were able to secure the location and safely remove the youth from the cabin,” King said in an updated release Tuesday.
“The youth had minor bruising and was safely transported back by helicopter to Île-à-la-Crosse.”
The suspect – an adult male – attempted to flee from the cabin and resisted arrest, King added in the release, noting police used a taser to bring him under control.
Northwest of Saskatoon
He said the male was treated for minor injuries back in the Métis village of about 1,200 located 380 km northwest of Saskatoon.
Firearms and drugs were located in the cabin and seized, King added,
RCMP charged Aaron Gardiner, who is from Île-à-la-Crosse, with nine offences, including unlawful confinement, assault and possession for the purpose of trafficking, according to the police release. He remains in custody.
But the investigation didn’t end there.
King said at least two more alleged victims have come forward and there could be more.
“Additional victims have come forward to police in response to the arrest of 42-year-old Aaron Gardiner and his remand in custody following the (alleged) incident of unlawful confinement in Ile a la Crosse,” King said in the latest release. “This new information spurred new investigations.”
The mayor of Île-à-la-Crosse, also known as Sakitawak, said RCMP did a good job of dealing with a dangerous situation.
“They had made an arrest,” Duane Favel said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “They called in the military to assist out of Cold Lake.”
King said the investigation was ongoing, and tips could be submitted to Ile a la Crosse RCMP, the Prince Albert General Investigation Section or anonymously through Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers.
He said the rescued youth has since returned to the care of her family.