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UPDATE: Charges laid in dramatic art theft and takedown
One of two suspects in an art theft and dramatic takedown on Thursday has been charged and is undergoing a psychiatric assessment.
Qualicum Beach resident Nelson Robert Meggitt, 40, of Qualicum Beach appeared in B.C. Provincial Court in Nanaimo Thursday and has been charged with one count of theft under $5000, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon — the vehicle he was driving.
Meggitt is also facing two additional charges of assault causing bodily harm and assault of a police officer in relation to an alleged incident at the Oceanside RCMP detachment.
“The last two charges result from allegations that Mr. Meggitt assaulted a guard and police officer during an interview process at the Oceanside detachment,” said Sgt. Darrell Robertson. “The Courts have ordered that Mr. Meggitt be held in custody to undergo a 29- day psychiatric assessment. “
Meggitt will appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court no later than March 1.
The second suspect in the case, a 47-year-old Qualicum Beach woman, has been released from custody. However, police have recommended a charge of theft under $5,000. She is set to appear in Provincial Court on Feb. 21.
The charges relate to an incident Wednesday when a suspect vehicle in a Qualicum Beach art theft rammed a police cruiser multiple times before the occupants were arrested at gunpoint Wednesday, say police.
Police were responding to a report of an art theft from a Qualicum Beach business 15 minutes earlier, said Robertson and drove on HIghway 4A towards Qualicum Beach from Coombs.
"The officer met the vehicle fitting the description and they passed each other," Robertson said. "The officer did a 180 degree turn to determine the license number and check the vehicle. As the police vehicle turned around, the other vehicle did a 180 degree turn as well."
The suspect vehicle, he said, accelerated and veered into the oncoming lane, forcing the officer to take evasive action to avoid a head-on collision. The other vehicle also swerved at the last second.
"The police vehicle started moving again and as the officer looked in the rear view mirror, the other vehicle had again done a 180 and was accelerating up behind the police vehicle and rammed it twice, pushing it into another vehicle and forcing (the other vehicle) off the road into a ditch."
A fourth vehicle was also involved in the collisions, although Robertson wasn't sure exactly how that took place, but the suspect vehicle ended up in the west bound ditch and the police cruiser was in the centre of the road.
"The two occupants of the vehicle were exiting and the police officer also exited and performed a high-risk takedown ... took them down at gunpoint and waited for backup, which wasn't far away, and they were taken into custody."
"I just heard the sound of a car going really fast and then a hell-of-a bang, four loud bangs," said Alf Bergqvist who was working in the "A" Company Military Surplus store beside the accident scene.
He said he didn't hear any sirens and by the time he got outside to look, a female officer had a man and woman laying on the side of the road near the suspect car and was yelling at them to stay where they were, pointing something at them that may have been a gun or Taser.
He said didn't get much of a look at the two people on the ground.
The RCMP member and the driver of a pick-up were taken by ambulance to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The officer was later released.
The driver of the other vehicle was treated at the scene and released.
The two occupants of the suspect vehicle, a 40-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman, were taken into custody and the highway was closed for several hours. The theft and the circumstances surrounding the collision are still under investigation.
BC ambulance tended to the two occupants of the suspect vehicle, who were then taken to the Oceanside detachment.
They are facing charges of possession of stolen property and dangerous driving, although other charges may be added.
- by Auren Ruvinsky and Neil Horner