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Arrest made in connection with fatal hit-and-run during RCMP chase

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Police arrested someone Tuesday evening in connection with the fatal hit-and-run that occurred during a police chase in Beaumont on Saturday.

Mounties confirmed the arrest to CTV News Edmonton Wednesday morning.

They did not provide any other details except that the arrest was made near Wainwright, the same area in which a stolen Honda Civic related to the case was found.

Spokesperson Cpl. Troy Savinkoff promised an update would be provided once charges were laid or any other developments came.

"There's no doubt there's pressures (sic) on the police to make an arrest. At the same time, you need a high-quality investigation (so) that when you have an arrest, you can actually lay those charges," he said during a Wednesday interview.

Fort Saskatchewan resident Kassandra Gartner, 45, was killed on Saturday when she was hit by a U-Haul driver fleeing police. She had driven over a spike belt near 50 Street and Highway 814 in Beaumont and left her vehicle to investigate what had happened.

The U-Haul driver also hit another vehicle, sending one man to hospital, before crashing at a south Edmonton gas station, where they stole a 2020 Honda Civic with a child inside.

The child was found unhurt a short while later several blocks away.

A woman, who was believed to have also been in the U-Haul during the police chase, was found at the gas station that night. Police did not say if she was involved or if she had been arrested or charged.

Police released photos of the suspected U-Haul driver on Tuesday.

Police say this man was driving a U-Haul on Feb. 24, 2024, when he struck and killed Kassandra Gartner in Beaumont. (Credit: RCMP)

Savinkoff confirmed Mounties are looking into whether he is the suspect in a Cold Lake break-in on Feb. 17, during which eight vehicles were stolen.

Cold Lake RCMP asked for help identifying this man after a business on Highway 55 in Cold Lake was broke into the night of Feb. 17, 2024, and eight vehicles were stolen. (Source: RCMP)

"We are aware of the Cold Lake investigation and the similarities of the two photos, but we cannot comment further due to the ongoing investigation," Savinkoff said.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates police conduct which may have caused serious injury or death, is reviewing the Saturday police chase.

According to Dan Jones, a former Edmonton police officer and the chair of Norquest College's justice studies department, deciding to use a tire deflation device is a matter of weighing public safety and danger – but, first and foremost, ensuring everyone is safe.

"You want to make sure it's clear, make sure that you're not going to hit civilian vehicles, you want to make sure you're going to hit the target vehicle, you also want to make sure your member that's deploying that spike is not in harm's way," he told CTV News Edmonton.

Sometimes, he continued, it's a question of: "Do we need to stop this person, or can we let go and try to figure it out later and just pull back?"

"We have to make sure we use that option when it's necessary. But so much is going through your head in trying to balance that public safety issue. They're tough decisions."

In the RCMP, Savinkoff said usage of tools like spike belts is dictated by protocols and ultimately the decision of the real-times operations centre.

Between July and December 2023, Alberta RCMP approved using a tire deflation device 205 times, Savinkoff said. In 95 of the events, the device was either not used or unsuccessful.

"When a criminal flight ends in the death of a civilian, it's terrible. It's terrible for the families, it's terrible for the police officers involved because they're going to have to live with that forever as well. They're going to second guess themselves for the rest of their lives," Jones said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nav Sangha 

Correction

A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that the woman believed to be in the U-Haul during the police chase was arrested.

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