Two suspects were back in custody, after an incident in the Whitecourt Law Courts that left an Alberta sheriff suffering from a gunshot wound, and an unsuccessful escape attempt.

A local radio reporter described the scene that unfolded in a courtroom at about 11:30 a.m., when those inside the courtroom heard commotion from behind an area closed doors, where prisoners are lead into court.

“The sheriff who was in the courtroom at the time immediately swung up, and ran to the back,” Lynden McBeth said. “Within seconds we heard ‘Bang bang’ and then the courthouse was evacuated immediately.

“People then were running for their lives.”

After that, two prisoners made off with a sheriff van – and headed to Highway 32 just outside the Town of Whitecourt, near a farmhouse.

It was there, after a long standoff, that they were arrested – it’s believed shots were fired and RCMP from a number of detachments helped in the arrest.

“This is over the top, we’re here to protect the public, and something like that affects us all, including the public, so yes it is very serious,” Staff Sgt. Rodney Koscielny with RCMP said.

The two suspects were set to appear in court to face charges in connection to a major drug bust on February 21.

RCMP said the sheriff suffered non-life threatening injuries in the incident – he is listed in stable condition in hospital.

Alberta Justice said an investigation has been launched into what happened - officials told CTV News sheriffs are trained to handle such situations. The Whitecourt Courthouse does not have metal detectors.

With files from Serena Mah