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Alberta RCMP say suspect in Edmonton city hall shooting was 'politically motivated'

Edmonton city hall was briefly locked down on Jan. 28, 2024, when an armed suspect fired shots inside the building. (Paige Parsons/CBC - image credit)
Edmonton city hall was briefly locked down on Jan. 28, 2024, when an armed suspect fired shots inside the building. (Paige Parsons/CBC - image credit)

Alberta RCMP say the actions of a man accused of firing shots and throwing Molotov cocktails inside Edmonton city hall earlier this year are believed to be "politically motivated."

RCMP announced its Integrated National Security Enforcement Team has charged Bezhani Sarvar, 28, with counselling commission of a terrorism offence and possession of property for terrorist purposes.

In a news conference Tuesday, RCMP Supt. Glenn Sells said Sarvar's actions reached the legal threshold required to support terrorism charges.

"Our investigation shows that his actions, including the use of violence, led us to believe that this was a politically motivated crime and ultimately led to the supporting terrorism offences here," Sells told reporters.

RCMP did not go into specific details of the evidence to support the claim, but Sells said investigators believe Sarvar acted alone.

Alberta RCMP Supt. Glenn Sells said Bezhani Sarvar's actions were politically motivated in a news conference on Tuesday.
Alberta RCMP Supt. Glenn Sells said Bezhani Sarvar's actions were politically motivated in a news conference on Tuesday.

Alberta RCMP Supt. Glenn Sells speaks to media in a news conference Tuesday. (David Bajer/CBC)

An SKS semi-automatic rifle, three prohibited rifle magazines, about 150 rounds of ammunition and four gasoline-filled Molotov cocktails were seized at the scene of the shooting, RCMP said.

"This certainly highlights the risk posed to the public and the amount of damage that could have been done that day," Sells said.

Sarvar is also facing nine criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 23 attack at city hall that led to a lockdown. No one was injured during the incident.

In its news release, the RCMP say the following criminal charges laid against Sarvar also constitute terrorism offences:

  • Intentionally or recklessly cause damage by fire or explosion to property, knowing the property was inhabited.

  • Intentionally possess incendiary material while committing an indictable offence.

  • Use of a firearm while committing an indictable offence.

  • Intentional discharge of a firearm while being reckless as to the life and safety of another person.

  • Possession of a prohibited device  (two counts).

  • Mischief.

  • Carrying a concealed weapon.

  • Possession of weapon for the purpose of committing an offence.

Sarvar was scheduled for a bail hearing on Tuesday in Edmonton's Court of Justice, but the hearing didn't go ahead.

Following the shooting, Sarvar had been facing six criminal charges which were set to be prosecuted by Alberta Crown prosecutors, but in court Tuesday the provincial Crown withdrew those charges, and advised that a lawyer from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada would be taking over the case to deal with the new federal charges.

Sarvar, who is being held in the Calgary Remand Centre, was not present in court.

In light of the new charges, Sarvar's defence lawyer asked for more time before proceeding with a bail hearing.

Sarvar's case will be back in court on March 15.