One officer had his arm grazed by a bullet and another was injured when he was run over by a truck driven by the suspect, who had been hiding in a shed.
RCMP Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis said it would be wrong for people to compare what happened Monday night to the 2005 ambush near Mayerthorpe, Alta., where four Mounties were gunned down by a man hiding in a Quonset hut on a rural farm.
"We weren't protecting a scene. We weren't waiting for other members to come to examine a scene, to seize other items like the Quonset in Mayerthorpe," McGinnis said Tuesday.
"I have heard that we should have had our emergency response team there when we first went there.
"Well, if we went with an emergency response team to every potential witness that we wanted to interview, I think that we would be criticized for being a military state rather than a police force."
The officer who was run over suffered broken bones and internal injuries and was undergoing surgery at an Edmonton hospital Tuesday afternoon.
McGinnis said a couple arrested on the farm with the alleged gunman were later released without being charged.
The alleged gunman was in hospital being treated for gunshot wounds.
McGinnis said it all started when RCMP got a call Monday afternoon complaining that a man had threatened to go to a farmhouse with a handgun and kill someone. Police then received a call from someone in the area between the communities of Tofield and Vegreville who reported the theft of two shotguns and a rifle.
Five Mounties approached a farm, with two officers staying at a distance as three others went to the house. The officers spotted the suspect's truck parked near a shed. When two of the Mounties looked inside, they found the suspect hiding there and a fight began.
"There was a physical altercation between two of the members and this suspect," McGinnis said.
"This suspect managed to get away, got into his truck and the events unfolded where we got into a gunfight with this individual and our members were injured."
The wounded suspect was arrested after a lengthy standoff.
Alberta's Serious Incident Response Team will investigate the shooting, which is standard procedure in Alberta when anyone is shot by police. ASIRT can make recommendations to the RCMP.
McGinnis said police have been frustrated while dealing with people in rural Alberta involved in the drug trade who steal so they can pay for their drugs.
A somewhat emotional McGinnis said he hopes what happened sends a message to the public.
"This is their RCMP members that are out there doing this. I really want the Canadian public to know that," he stressed. "This is their police that are putting their lives on the line to make sure they're safe in their beds."
On March 3, 2005, gunman James Roszko ambushed constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston and Brock Myrol near Mayerthorpe northwest of Edmonton. Roszko was shot by another Mountie before killing himself.
In February 2012, two Mounties were injured when they were shot while trying to deliver a warrant to a farmhouse near Killam, 160 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.
Constables Sheldon Shah and Sid Gaudette underwent surgery and survived. Sawyer Robison, 28, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she was saddened by the officer's injuries.
"I'm pleased that they've been able to make progress with respect to the perpetrators in the alleged incidents. It's not appropriate for me to comment any further with respect to the investigation or the prosecution, but sufficient to say today that it was very disappointing, very worrying to hear the story last night," she said in Calgary.
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the family and every single day we thank everyone who's a front-line service provider."
— By John Cotter in Edmonton, with files from Gwen Dambrofsky and Ken Trimble
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