NEWS
09/30/2011 03:19 EDT | Updated 11/30/2011 05:12 EST

Saskatchewan Mob Attacked Two Mounties, According To RCMP

CP

LA LOCHE, Sask. - RCMP are investigating after a violent, unruly mob attacked two officers in a northwestern Saskatchewan hospital and torched a police truck.

Police say the officers were forced to barricade the hospital in La Loche early Friday and use pepper spray to prevent up to 70 people from getting inside.

"It is believed the crowd's intent was to forcibly remove the two La Loche (RCMP) members that were inside the hospital," said a police news release.

"The members and hospital staff were able to barricade the doors and keep the crowd out of the hospital. The front doors and windows of the hospital were heavily damaged."

A backup team of more than 20 Mounties from the La Loche detachment were called out to rescue the officers and disperse the crowd.

RCMP say the disturbance began about 3:15 a.m. when an ATV crashed near a police truck parked outside a raucous house party.

Mounties say party-goers threw rocks and bottles while officers were questioning the injured ATV driver. The injured man passed out and some people started threatening the officers and blaming them for his injuries.

Police say the Mounties and paramedics were hit with flying debris but were not seriously hurt.

The ambulance that took the injured ATV driver to hospital was heavily damaged. The crowd then followed the Mounties to the hospital.

Insp. Jay MacInnis says they have suspects, but no arrests have been made.

He says order has been restored and the community should now reflect on how something so dangerous and damaging could happen.

He says the Mounties and other staff who were attacked feared for their lives.

"It is a scary situation. I would hope that the community is disappointed and concerned," he said from Prince Albert. "Community leaders really need to dissect what happened."

MacInnis says people should not assume that the crowd did this to target police, because ambulance workers and hospital staff were also attacked.

He says the Mounties and staff did an admirable job under tough circumstances.

La Loche has had problems with violence in recent years.

In 2009, RCMP estimated there were about 100 gang members in the community of 2,300.

In 2008, there was tension after a Mountie fatally shot a man during a scuffle on the nearby Clearwater Dene River First Nation.

MacInnis says RCMP are determined to lay charges in the case.

"We need to send a loud and clear message to the people responsible that they are going to be held to account, and if the evidence affords the opportunity to lay charges, we certainly will be doing that."