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Uptown New West taxi drama was a 'carjacking,' NWPD confirms

Anyone with any information about this afternoon's mayhem is asked to call the NWPD.

A police drama that unfolded on busy uptown New Westminster streets this afternoon was a carjacking that ended with only minor injuries, police say.

That's the latest word from the New Westminster Police Department about the incident that hit social media after witness reports of a taxi driving erratically along Sixth Street and hitting cars along the way.

Sgt. Andrew Leaver of the NWPD confirmed police responded to a call about the incident at about 1:40 this afternoon (Wednesday, May 17).

"Multiple 911 callers reported the taxi striking vehicles and pedestrians having to jump out of the way," Leaver told the Record.

Leaver said police learned the taxi had been stolen; the person driving the taxi was the suspect.

"The suspect was determined to have stolen a taxi before driving around the uptown neighbourhood," he said.

Police located the stolen vehicle and followed it before boxing it in at the intersection of Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue.

Investigators are asking anyone who saw the incident or who was involved in it in any way — those whose cars were damaged or those who had to jump out of the way of the taxi — to contact them. Leaver said police also welcome all video of the incident.

People who aren't sure whether their car was part of the incident but whose car may have suffered unexplained damage today are asked to call as well, Leaver noted; police aren't yet able to confirm exactly how far the suspect drove in the stolen taxi, but it may have extended into the Queen's Park neighbourhood as well.

He noted that the more information police receive from the public, the better, as they attempt to figure out the reason for the unusual incident.

"We don't know why this happened," he said.

Amrik Mahil at Royal City Taxi told the Record earlier in the day that he had only received a few details but reported that a man with a knife had gotten into a taxi. He said the taxi driver had been taken to hospital.

Leaver confirmed the driver of the taxi sustained "minor injuries" in the theft but was unable to confirm whether a weapon was used, as the theft of the taxi and the "manner in which the taxi was stolen" are part of the investigation.

Leaver noted the investigation will be "very complex"; though the incident itself took about 20 minutes to unfold, the investigation may take months.

He pointed out the episode took place in uptown New Westminster in the middle of the day, with many people on the street.

"Ultimately, the goal was to stop the vehicle," he said, noting the number 1 goal for police on scene was to stop the taxi. "This had the potential to be extremely dangerous, so the priority was to protect the people in the area."

A Reddit thread about the incident reported the driver of the cab was "screaming with rage" and that police had their guns out.

Leaver could not confirm whether police had used any "use of force options" in bringing the incident to its ultimately peaceful conclusion.

He said the suspect suffered only "minor injuries" in the incident, which ended when police vehicles boxed the taxi in at the intersection of Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue.

Leaver said police want to thank residents, business owners and shoppers for their patience during and after the incident.

Streets around the area had been closed for a lengthy period following the incident, but all streets are reopened and traffic is back to normal.

Those with information can contact the NWPD at 604-525-5411 using file number 23-7720. 

Anyone who may have been affected by the episode who feels they need help from the Victim Assistance Unit is encouraged to call 604-529-2525.

Watch: Video of the Royal City Taxi carjacking as it ends

A Twitter user captured the mayhem on the road earlier this afternoon:

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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