The Somali refugee charged with the vehicle-and-knife attack in Edmonton, Alberta sought asylum in Canada after being ordered deported from the United States.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Tuesday that in 2011, Hasan Sharif Abdulahi was ordered back to Somalia.
Before ramming his car into a Canadian policeman, stabbing him, injuring four people, and then leading officers on a high-speed chase on Saturday, Sharif was in the United States of America. A spokesperson for ICE, Jennifer Elzea, said he was taken into ICE custody in San Diego in July 2011. In September of that year, an immigration judge ordered him sent back to Somalia.
Sharif was released from custody two months later but failed to appear for his removal on Jan. 24, 2012, according to Elzea, who said authorities were unable to locate him again. Sharif had no known criminal history at the time of his encounters with ICE, she said.
Sharif, 30, arrived in Canada legally in 2012 and obtained refugee status.
He began his rampage this past weekend by driving a Chevrolet Malibu into a police crowd-control barricade, running over Officer Mike Chernyk, 48, sending him flying into the air. The driver then jumped out of the vehicle, stabbed the injured officer repeatedly, and ran away.
Edmonton police stated Sunday that they were investigating the incident as a terrorist attack because there was an Islamic State flag in his car, and because he was investigated in 2015 for espousing extremist views. However, they have backed off that charge, for the time being.
Sharif now faces 11 charges in Canada, including five for attempted murder.
Canadian Public Safety spokesperson Scott Bardsley said Sharif entered from the United States through a regular port of entry, and was granted refugee status later that year.
“There was no information that would have raised any red flags when he entered Canada,” Bardsley said in an emailed statement, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A preliminary hearing for Sharif opened Tuesday but was recessed until Nov. 14 or sooner to give Sharif time to hire a lawyer.
Edmonton police say they believe Sharif acted alone.
Constable Mike Chernyk, the man Sharif attacked, was handling crowd control outside a Canadian Football League game when he was hit by the speeding Malibu. He suffered cuts on his face and scrapes on his arms but is expected to make a full recovery.
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