EVANSBURG, Alta. - Police believe a fleeing suspect who died in an exchange of gunfire with officers in Alberta was wanted for the murder of a Calgary woman, a sister of the woman says.
Adam Bettahar, 21, was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Nadia El-Dib, 22, whose body was found in a backyard northeast Calgary last weekend.
Police have not released the name of the suspect who died Thursday, but El-Dib's older sister Racha says a Calgary police detective phoned her family Thursday to tell them they believed it was Bettahar.
RCMP have said an officer in Evansburg spotted a man on Thursday who was believed to be wanted on a Canada-wide warrant that had been issued in Calgary, and a chase began after he failed to stop his vehicle.
In the confrontation that followed, police say the suspect was killed and Sgt. Brian Topham, the Evansburg detachment commander, suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound and was taken to hospital by air ambulance.
In an interview on Friday, Racha El-Dib said the incident has provided "a form of closure" for her family.
"We're (now) able to mourn our sister Nadia and be able to focus on her, especially with the funeral coming up on Sunday and the burial on Monday," El-Dib said.
Alberta's police watchdog has taken over the investigation of the suspect's death but has also not released the name, saying in a news release Friday evening that the vehicle police were chasing was associated with an active Calgary homicide investigation.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team said in its news release that when the chase ended, the 21-year-old man who was the lone occupant of the vehicle got out and immediately began firing a gun, striking and injuring an RCMP officer.
"Officers returned fire, striking and fatally wounding the man in the exchange of gunfire," the release stated, adding that an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley posted a series of tweets Friday in which she linked the shooting incident with El-Dib's death.
Notley said her thoughts were with the nearby communities and the officer who was injured. She also thanked officers from nearby detachments who helped during the chase.
"My heart goes out to the family and friends of Ms. El-Dib, who died tragically in a related incident in Calgary last weekend. May they find comfort during this extremely difficult time," Notley wrote on Twitter.
RCMP have said that after Thursday's chase began, the pursuit continued on Highway 16 between Evansburg and Entwistle, travelling eastbound and westbound multiple times as RCMP officers from several nearby communities joined the effort to stop the driver.
The force says the man managed to get around tire spikes until the tactic succeeded at Nojack, about 35 kilometres west of where the chase began.
RCMP said in a news release Friday that Topham remains in the hospital, but is recovering well and is in good spirits.
"He and his family are extremely appreciative of the support and concern that has been flooding in from colleagues and the public. The entire RCMP Division is standing behind him and wishing him a speedy recovery," police said in the release.
Police in Calgary would not confirm Friday whether the arrest warrant for Bettahar was still active.
Investigators in Calgary have said they believed Bettahar and El-Dib were in a relationship for a short time prior to her death.
Racha El-Dib said there were four girls in her family, and all four lived at home with their parents in Calgary.
Nadia, she said, was in her first year of a legal assistant program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and had plans to one day pursue a law degree.
Since her death, El-Dib said her family has received an outpouring support from across North America, as well as from family in Lebanon.
"She impacted so many people because she was so friendly and loving and bubbly," El-Dib said.
"We're really proud of her."
— By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton